Next game at The Bank will see protests

October at TCF Bank Stadium is over for the Vikings. The next time they are there, their opponent will invoke protests because of their name.

As season ticket holders left Sunday’s 17-3 loss to Detroit – many of them a half hour before the clock hit :00 – they had a bad feeling about their team.

When they arrive for the next game in their ticket package, it could be more than just a little bit interesting.

On Sunday, pink was clearly visible at TCF Bank Stadium. It won’t be back. The next time the Vikings play at The Bank, it’s going to be November and it might be crazy.

Take that to the bank.

The Vikings won’t make their return to the friendly confines until Nov. 2. Their opponent will be the Washington Football Club. They go by another name.

Therein lies the problem.

Plans are underway for a massive show of disapproval for the Redskins name and logo. It’s not without precedent, but this time, the revolution will definitely be televised.

When Minnesota hosted its first Super Bowl, I was a college student assigned to cover the Native American protest outside Super Bowl XXVI (26 to most of us). I had wiggled my way inside – my seat was devoted to a reporter from Sport magazine from Australia who no-showed. Seeing that my seat was better than the local media, it was a “G’day!” situation. But, my job was effectively done by the time I took my seat and got my Australian Super Bowl swag.

My assignment that day was to get the word on the street – literally. Being indoors afterward was a happy accident.

As luck would have it – I chalk it up to clean livin’ – I walked up on a cop and asked who was in charge. Turned out, the deputy chief of police for the City of Minneapolis was six feet away. Nice!

He freely admitted that the protests of the Redskins was heartfelt and peaceful. There was a police presence in case things “went south,” but nothing happened.

At the moment the man a heartbeat away from being the top dog in the MPD gave me a sweet quote, a roving protest came right up on us. Who was leading to the march?

Clyde Bellecourt.

Many of you may not know who he is. Daniel Snyder does.

Bellecourt is a co-founder of the American Indian Movement. In terms of a media member – much less one with downy feathers – he was “a get.” He explained the reason for the Native American presence at the biggest media event on the planet and his argument made sense.

That was Jan. 26, 1992. The world has changed a lot since then.

The question facing the Vikings, the Redskins and local law enforcement is if the Nov. 2 protest will be peaceful. That is the bean-bag gun question. It only takes a small dust-up to turn into a full-fledged riot. Much less on a college campus – which the Vikings happen to play at these day while waiting for a bigger, shinier stadium.

The sitting governor has denounced the name. So has President Obama. The U of M has imposed its largesse in the short-term stadium hand-off to limit the mention of the R-word in anything but required context.

Redskins may not be offensive in Landover. It is offensive in Minnesota and that point is going to be made. How loudly? To date, tribal councils from seven other states have pledged support and attend in numbers. By the time Nov. 2 rolls around, The Bank may be Ground Zero for a national statement to be made.

The Washington Football Club is traveling into the belly of the beast. The action outside the stadium may be more significant than the action inside.

At its core, “Redskin” is a term applied by white men toward people of a different color. I have yet to meet a true “Redskin.” I’ve met plenty of Native Americans and none of them have struck me as red.

Three months before that Super Bowl, the Twins played a World Series against the Braves. There were protests, but they weren’t directed at the name, but the “Tomahawk Chop” that came with it.

Hopefully, Minnesota Nice will be the word of the day Nov. 2. Will there be protests? No doubt. Will there be violence? That’s yet to be seen. But there are all the ingredients needed to put a spotlight on an issue that is potentially combustible.

October at The Bank is over as far as the Vikings are concerned. Nov. 2 may be a very different atmosphere. In a year that has witnessed a lot of change in the Vikings organization, how Nov. 2 is handled may well be the defining moment of a tumultuous season.

The protest is coming. It won’t be theoretical. It will be visceral. In 1991, it was peaceful. Given the current climate, in 2014, there is no such guarantee. The only certainty is that, because it’s the NFL, it will be televised.

If a line is going to be drawn, it should happen in a state that has Indian reservations in it. Reservations typically are located where natives being forced to move westward drew a line in the sand and lost out to superior firepower. Those in the Beltway don’t get that. Minnesotans do.

On Nov. 2, we might see defiance replicated – to the current definition of protest. To the extent that point is made will go a long way to making the Redskins moniker something that lasts or goes away.


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