For the first six seasons of his NFL career, Lorenzo Alexander sported the Burgundy and Gold every Sunday. Alexander was one of the Redskins' best special teamers during his tenure in Washington and even earned a Pro Bowl nod in his final season with the team.
However, throughout his six seasons with Washington, the defensive lineman-linebacker hybrid never raised concern about the Redskins' name. Now, that has changed.
In an interview with 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday, Alexander explained his current stance on the team's name, as well as why he never chose to speak up on the issue when he was a player for Washington.
"What I'm about to say, obviously the name should be changed," Alexander said. "But I can be seen as hypocritical because I played for the team and never really said much of it."
Over the past week, the Redskins have been publicly pressured by some of its largest corporate sponsors to change the name. In response, the team announced on Friday it was undergoing a review of the name, and a change appears to be on the horizon.
For Alexander, it took time to be away from the team to truly understand the meaning behind the name Redskins. Now, more than ever before, he understands why the name may need to be a thing of the past.
"I think once you kind of step away from it and kind of analyze what the word means and the progression of it – because it wasn't always a derogatory name, but at some point, it got attached to killing of Native Americans," Alexander said. "There's obviously a group in the Native American community that feels that it is derogatory, and they've always shown up and always protested, even while I was there, as far as getting the name changed."
With the social justice movement and fight for racial equality in America in full effect following the killing of George Floyd, Alexander believes that it would have been "hypocritical" for him not to advocate for a name change.
"I think we can no longer kind of stand behind ignorance or the fact that it doesn't really impact me," Alexander said. "So as a black man in the community, [it] would be very hypocritical for me to say, 'No, I love the name! It doesn't impact me!' when my community is kind of in an uproar right now speaking out on the same thing to the white community as far as some of the things that we see and how our lives are impacted."
During the interview, Alexander repeatedly emphasized how important it is for people with a powerful voice to speak up about societal issues, as that is one of the best ways to create a meaningful change.
Alexander commended FedEx being the first Redskins' sponsor to publicly call for a change, even with the company having such a lucrative partnership with the team. Additionally, Alexander mentioned that he doesn't think the movement to change the name would be so strong had the company not publicly raised concern about it.
"Some are bigger than others and that's why it takes all of us to create change because if FedEx didn't jump on board, this probably wouldn't have got done," Alexander said. "And so by them including themselves in the conversation and for change, it allowed for change to occur, and that's why I think everybody's responsible for the direction of our country as we move forward."
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