#RedskinsPride: social media fail or act of PR genius?

The Washington Redskins organization is trolling Senator Harry Reid on Twitter, encouraging fans to tweet the Democrat from Nevada to show a little “#RedskinsPride.” What could possibly go wrong?

Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, is among a group of lawmakers urging the Washington football team to change its name — a moniker that many inside and outside the Native American diaspora find offensive. Last week, half of the U.S. Senate, including Reid, called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to force the Redskins to drop the R word.

Last Friday, Redskins President Bruce Allen sent a letter to Reid calling the team’s “respectful” toward Native Americans. Today the Redskins, owned by iconoclastic billionaire Dan Snyder, pushed the ball down the field a few yards:

The response, as anyone who has spent more than a day on Twitter could have guessed, came quickly and relentlessly. It didn’t take long for the hashtag to trend. To be sure, plenty of fans tweeted in support of the team and used the hashtag as it was meant to be deployed. Many others, however, intercepted the tweet and ran it towards the opposing endzone. The team is currently dominating the newscycle in the off season — and both sides are calling it a victory.

Gawker media sports site Deadspin said they were going to stay out of the mishegas until they heard from the Senate Majority Leader’s office. “Even they were surprised it ‘was so massively a failure’,” Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky wrote.

But maybe that was a bit of artful spinning on the part of Reid’s office. It certainly wasn’t as if Twitter was devoid of support for the Redskins — and, perhaps more to the point, antagonism for the senator specifically.



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