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Redskins legend Gary Clark: The team name is not derogatory

Redskins legend Gary Clark: The team name is not derogatory

Gary Clark knows the controversy that has long surrounded the Redskins team name. He knows Washington’s football team might be in the process of making a stunning change. He does not believe that should happen. 

Clark, one of the franchise’s greatest wide receivers, played eight seasons as a Redskin, won two Super Bowls as a Redskin. He has also spent time at reservations working with Native American communities and talking about the team name. 

What he heard convinced him that a name change is not necessary, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Julie Donaldson – even as the team announced Friday it will undergo a ‘thorough review’ and the franchise could be known by a different moniker sometime soon. He speaks from personal experience and in language as fiery and passionate as how he once played the game. 

“The reason I initially visited the Native American reservations was because people were saying that saying the word Redskins was like saying the [N-word] to a black person,” Clark told Donaldson on Friday. “And if indeed that was true then I would definitely have been on the side of changing the name. Hence why I wanted to go to the reservation myself.”

“And what I found was Native Americans wearing Redskins gear and saying that they were proud to be a Redskin fan and the 5% that weren’t Redskins fans were Cowboys fans and that’s why they didn’t like the name.”

RELATED: REDSKINS TO CONDUCT A REVIEW OF TEAM NAME

Clark indeed made at least three trips to reservations that were sponsored by the Redskins with other ex-players. They conducted football camps and interacted with Native Americans and tried to get a sense of how that community viewed the name. 

What Clark heard then stays with him now. And despite Friday’s news and the increasing pressure from sponsors and the NFL to make a switch, he believes that the community itself does not find “Redskins” offensive and that the name ultimately should stay. That appears unlikely to happen. Clark remains steadfast. 

“Saying the word Redskins is not the same as saying the [N-word] because you won’t find ONE BLACK PERSON who would say I’m PROUD TO BE A [N-word] .... NOT ONE “ Clark wrote in a text to Donaldson. “So in my experiences with Native Americans, I’ve only had approving comments of the name Redskins except for those Native American Cowboys Fans.”

Clark’s 2014 trip was to the Rocky Boy’s Reservation in Montana, where he visited Chippewa-Cree tribal leaders. The team’s charity foundation funded playgrounds and provided computer equipment for dozens of Native American communities over the past decade as protests of the nickname began rising, especially at road games in western cities like Phoenix and Denver. 

Clark has in the past publicly rejected criticism that said the Redskins were trying to buy support for the team name from tribal leaders. And while the social climate in the United States has changed since the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd on May 25 in police custody, Clark’s personal belief is that the Redskins name should not be part of that important conversation. 

“You can’t put everybody in one box,” Clark said.

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Montez Sweat expects to have his hand in the dirt more for Washington in 2020

Montez Sweat expects to have his hand in the dirt more for Washington in 2020

During his Thursday Zoom press conference with the media, Montez Sweat gave a 16-word answer that will have Washington Football Team fans around the nation and the world rejoicing, celebrating and maybe even tearing up.

The response came to a question about how Sweat's role will change in 2020 under a new staff that includes Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio, and while it was short and simple, it was also glorious. 

"We're going to have my hand in the dirt more so than I was last year," Sweat said.

That's right, everybody. It sounds like the plan is for Sweat to rush the passer as much as possible this year, instead of sometimes rush the passer and sometimes drop into coverage like he was asked to do as a rookie.

Isn't that a novel idea?

Between that attack-first approach Rivera and Del Rio are "preaching" and the switch to a 4-3 scheme, which Sweat starred in at Mississippi State, the 2019 first-round pick is feeling confident about his immediate future.

Those factors aren't what makes him most optimistic, though. 

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In reflecting on his debut campaign, Sweat described how much more comfortable he got as the schedule progressed. The numbers back that up, too — 5.5 of his 7 sacks came in Washington's final eight contests.

That increase in production came as he began figuring out how to study for his opponents and how to better take on the lineman across from him. Those are things he's prepared to carry over into 2020, too.

"I feel like I developed more of a rush plan going into the games," he said. "Winning with speed and stuff like that isn't going to work most of the time. You have to get moves, you have to refine your technique."

Add all of that up, and Sweat is fully ready to do more for the defense after what he's personally labeled a slightly disappointing rookie season.

"I definitely didn't live up to my expectations and my standards," he said. "It was a learning year for me. I learned a lot, and I just want to show what I learned coming up this next year."

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Jerry Jones shares what the Cowboys will do during national anthem

Jerry Jones shares what the Cowboys will do during national anthem

It's become a question every professional sports team has had to or will have to answer at one point or another: "What will you do during the national anthem?"

Most NBA players have decided to take a knee, while a percentage of players in MLB and the NHL have decided to do the same. Some players remain standing, as is their choice, though people want to know everyone's plan. Especially Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. 

Jones didn't reveal the specifics of his team's plan once their season begins on September 13, though he did reveal what the general theme of their demonstration to reporters Wednesday. 

"We're going to show grace. I'm going to show grace. And I'd like to show that kind of grace on a sensitive matter," Jones said, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. "Everybody is genuine here. I'm giving everyone the benefit of the doubt relative to any decision that I make. I have one thing: My job is to run the Dallas Cowboys. My job is to do what's right. We've asked for all of this interest and we've asked for our players to give everything they've got."

RELATED: MLS FANS BOO PLAYERS KNEELING DURING ANTHEM

Jones was notably anti-protest back in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem. Nobody on his team took a knee during the anthem, and he later stated how proud he was of his team for it. Jones also required his team to stand for the anthem in 2017.

"We strongly, strongly support the flag," Jones said at the time. "In every way, we support -- it's almost ridiculous to be saying it -- the people that for generations and generations have given it all up so we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television. We respect that so much. That's the real business."   

But as Jones said Wednesday, "That was then, this is now." We won't know until the day comes whether the Cowboys will kneel during the national anthem or put on any other demonstration. But for now, we can acknowledge how Jones has changed his tune regarding this issue. 

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