Washington’s owner reacted as the street talked and the money walked. This was far from a philanthropic decision by the billionaire

On the eve of the 2014 season Daniel Snyder took to the airwaves to defend his claim to the racial slur that had served as the nickname for his NFL franchise pretty much since its creation. Appearing on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the camera-shy billionaire reached for earnestness. “Whether it’s the owners or the people at the league, most people understand what the team name means,” Snyder said. “They look at it as we all do – as honor, respect.”

That was of course until Monday, when the team pronounced the “Redskins” name and logo retired. This rebranding effort, the denouement of a decades-long linguistic and legal debate, marks a stunning reversal for arguably the most mule-headed steward of any US sports franchise. Ever since Snyder bought the team at the turn of the century, he has held fast to the notion that the name actually honors Native Americans. “Dan cares more than anybody,” his wife, Tanya, told ESPN. “He’s the most passionate fan that there is.”

Related: Indians, Braves and Chiefs: what now for US sports’ other Native American names?

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