ESPN’s Mike Ditka ‘Admires’ Snyder; Calls Redskins Opponents ‘Idiots’

Mike DitkaAssociated Press
Mike Ditka
Associated Press


Simon Moya-Smith, Indian Country Today


ESPN analyst and former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka isn’t falling in line with the growing number of sportscasters, journalists and sundry public figures who refuse to use the name of the Washington NFL team. Instead, he says people who oppose the team’s name are “asinine.”

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said during an interview with Mike Richman of “It’s so much [expletive], it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is

“It’s been the name of the team since the beginning of football,” Ditka added. “It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”

RELATED: 67 Percent of Native Americans Say ‘Redskins’ Is Offensive

Ditka continued to berate all those who oppose the name – a group that includes high-ranking individuals like Hillary Clinton, Keith Olbermann and former Washington player Champ Bailey.

“It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is,” Ditka said. “It’s got nothing to do with anything else. We’re going to change something because we can. Hey listen, I went through it in the 60s, too. I mean, come on. Everybody lined up, did this. It’s fine to protest. That’s your right, if you don’t like it, protest. You have a right to do that, but to change the name, that’s ridiculous. Change the Constitution — we’ve got people trying to do that, too, and they’re doing a pretty good job.”

CBS Sportscaster Phil Simms, who will call Thursday Night Football games beginning September 11, said Monday that he is hesitant to use the name of the Washington team and is sensitive to the complaints about the name. “My very first thought is it will be Washington the whole game,” Simms told The Associated Press.

RELATED: 10 ‘I’m so Redskins’ Tweets that Explain Why Is so Wrong

Simms said he is not taking sides in the contentious debate, but that once he thought about the name his conscience kicked in. “I never really thought about it, and then it came up and it made me think about it,” Simms added. “There are a lot of things that can come up in a broadcast, and I am sensitive to this.”



The five faces of Shoni Schimmel


espnw_e_schimmel_01b_576x878November 7, 2013

By Kate Fagan |

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We asked Louisville senior guard Shoni Schimmel to spend an afternoon with us in front of the camera. Usually on a day off from practice, Schimmel will catch up on TV shows — right now, she’s into “Revenge” — by streaming them on Netflix. But today, she packed a bag filled with the clothes and accessories she loves, then showed off her style, on and off the court.

Photos by Robby Klein for espnW

1. Not as easy as it looks

When Schimmel is asked to recreate the ridiculous playground shot she made against Baylor center Brittney Griner in the Sweet 16 of last season’s NCAA tournament, she needs some direction. “Was it with my left hand? How was my body positioned?” She twists and extends the ball in her right palm, underhand, then asks, “Was it like this?”

Wait, what? Hasn’t she watched the YouTube video of that moment dozens of times? It is easily one of the most spectacular moves — behind-the-back dribble, turn in the air, overhead flip off the glass — in NCAA women’s tourney history, especially given the tension of the moment and the game’s David-versus-Goliath narrative. As if the shot itself wasn’t enough, the 5-foot-9 Schimmel popped off the floor after drawing the foul and went toe-to-toe with the 6-8 Griner, letting out a fierce whoop and providing the perfect image to go along with the underdog theme.

“I think I’ve seen it once,” Schimmel says of the clip. “That whole moment was a misunderstanding. It’s not like me to get in someone’s face. After making the move, I was on the ground and I couldn’t see Brittney, so I thought she stepped on me on purpose. It was obviously by accident; I just didn’t know it at the time.”

No one thought Louisville, a No. 5 seed, would oust top-seeded Baylor — no one except Schimmel and her teammates, that is. She made a bet with her parents before the game that if the Cardinals won, the two of them would officially get married. Everyone on the Umatilla reservation where Schimmel grew up, in eastern Oregon, already considered Rick Schimmel and Ceci Moses married, because they had been together for 25 years and have eight children. But the couple had never made it legally binding — they just didn’t feel the need for outside validation — until they walked into an Oklahoma City courthouse after Louisville’s shocking upset in the regional semifinals.

2. Rez ball style

Some players think “flashy” is a negative term, but Schimmel is fine with it. That’s the style of ball she grew up playing on the reservation — “rez ball,” as it is commonly known. She tosses a ball into the air and catches it on the tip of her index finger, watching it spin. “When I was a kid, I was hooked on the AND1 mixtapes,” she says, referring to the popular streetball DVDs that emphasize jaw-dropping moves over drawn-up plays.

Schimmel hadn’t played much structured basketball before arriving at Louisville. She chose the school over Oregon, UCLA, Rutgers and South Carolina because she wanted to experience a different part of the country while playing for a coach who was willing to adapt her free-flowing style to the college game.

Cardinals coach Jeff Walz lets Schimmel do her thing — no-look passes, behind-the-back dishes, full-court baseball tosses — within the structure of his offense, taking advantage of her ability to improvise but also pulling on the reins when Schimmel crosses over from creative to careless.

3. See the 3, be the 3

Schimmel has some swagger. There is something in her walk, her movements, that reflects confidence, especially when she possesses the ball. Toss her the rock and Schimmel light ups, displaying all the tricks in her arsenal.

Come to think of it, the Cardinals as a team have some of this same bounce to their step, a self-assurance that made them fun to watch on their run to the national championship game last spring. Occasionally, after making a 3-pointer, Schimmel will raise her arms or lift her hand to her eye, like she’s putting on a pair of glasses. (Notice the three fingers extended.) On the opening possession of the NCAA title game against Connecticut, Louisville forward Sara Hammond made a 3 then ran back down court making the same gesture as Schimmel in the above photo.

In the end, Louisville had no answer for UConn’s talent and depth. But more will be expected of the Cardinals after their epic postseason run made up for a mediocre regular season. (Louisville is ranked No. 5 in the preseason polls.) “I think we’re better this year,” says Schimmel, one of four returning starters. “We’re more of a veteran team.”

4. Shades of Shoni (and MJ)

When she walks around the Louisville campus, Schimmel is usually wearing her black Ray-Bans. She is much more low-key away from the court and thinks the sunglasses give her an extra layer of protection. Of course, she’s not really fooling anyone.

Her nickname — “Shades” — is perfect for her on-court persona. She is cool under pressure, much like her all-time favorite player, Michael Jordan. But ask Schimmel why she loves MJ so much and she is suddenly thrown for a loss. She shrugs her shoulders, with a confused look on her face, as if someone wants her to explain why she needs oxygen.

5. Finding her voice

Schimmel is just starting to realize how much weight her voice carries within the Native American community. Over the summer, she and her sister Jude, who also plays for Louisville, and their parents visited the Black Hills of South Dakota to speak with the residents there. When Louisville plays, even on the road, members of the Native American community wait for Shoni and Jude after the game. These fans want their kids to see the opportunities that exist beyond the reservation, beyond the scourge of drugs and alcohol and school truancy that stunts too many young lives.

And Shoni wants to show them how good life can be — if you keep your eyes up. “There’s so much more,” she says. “I want them to know that.”

In the past, Schimmel was reluctant to speak publicly about topics close to her heart, for fear she might turn people off. Now, she is gradually owning and accepting the megaphone that sports has given her. She is one of the most prominent athletes of Native American heritage, one who finds herself at the nexus of a hot-button issue: Should the NFL’s Washington Redskins change their nickname?

Two years ago, maybe even last year, Schimmel would have deflected the question. Not anymore.

“I would change the name of the Redskins mainly for the Native American people as a whole,” Schimmel says. “It’s about respect for the Native American race, especially to not promote the racism carried over from the past. It was racist to be called a ‘redskin’ back in the day, so what makes it OK today? There isn’t a team called ‘whiteskins’ or ‘blackskins’ — how would that go over with the world?

“Just because what our people went through was hundreds of years ago doesn’t mean we forgot what happened, forgot what our elders went through. Changing the name would help give us, as Native Americans, the same equality that every other race wants.”

Schimmel Sisters to Attend ESPN’s ESPYs Award Show July 17th

Brent Cahwee,

LOS ANGELES – Shoni Schimmel and younger sister Jude will be in attendance for the 2013 ESPN’s ESPYs Award show slated later this month on July 17th in Los Angeles, California.

Jude and Shoni Schimmel

Jude and Shoni Schimmel during the Sweet 16 round of the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. – photo by Rhonda LeValdo


The annual award show highlights many of the past year’s defining sports moments in which fan voting determines the award winners in each category. The University of Louisville Cardinal’s women’s basketball team is up for the “Best Upset” of the year award for the game in which they defeated, then number one and defending national champions Baylor Bears, in the Sweet 16 round of the women’s NCAA tournament. The game was highlighted by an acrobatic layup by Shoni in which she took on player of the year Brittney Griner in what became an ESPN top 10 highlight for the tournament.

Competing for the same award category will be Florida Gulf Coast University’s upset win over the Georgetown Hoya’s in the men’s NCAA tournament, Texas A&M over Alabama from college football, and the Pacquiao vs Marquez “Champion of the decade” fight in which Marquez was the victor.

Although the Lady Cardinal team was selected for this award, not all of the Cardinal squad will be an attendance. Current head coach Jeff Walz will attend along with Shoni & Jude, Sara Hammond, Bria Smith and Antonita Slaughter.

“It’s exciting to know that Shoni and Jude were able to play in a game of this status. I think it will be an upset that people reflect on for many years not only in Women’s basketball, but also in the sports world in general,”

said Rick Schimmel, the father of the Schimmel sisters.

“Louisville beating Baylor was as big an upset as anyone could ever imagine. It was a thrilling game to watch and it’s exciting to know that they are being nominated for an ESPY for their victory over the Player of the Year and the defending National Champion.”

This year’s host for the ESPY’s will be Jon Hamm who will be accompanied by the usual all-star lineup of top athletes and entertainers.

Voting for the ESPY’s will continue all the way up until the start of the award show and end at 9:00 pm eastern time. Anyone wishing to place a vote for the Schimmels and the Louisville Cardinals for the “Best Upset” of the year award can do so by visiting the ESPY’s voting website at »

An Emmy-Winning Producer’s Doc About Lacrosse’s Native Origins

By Vincent Shilling, Indian Country Today Media Network

Dennis Deninger, an Emmy-winning production executive, was one of the first coordinating producers of ESPN’s SportsCenter. He has produced live sports television from six continents and across the United States; he has currently set his sights to produce a documentary entitled America’s First Sport, on the history of lacrosse.

In an interview with ICTMN, Deninger, who is also a professor of practice in sports management at Syracuse University, talked about what he has learned in the process of making the documentary, and where he sees lacrosse going in the future.

How did your film get started?
I started teaching a course in the fall semester of 2012 called the History of Sport. We took students from the first accounts of sport being observed in the United States—which was lacrosse, when the Jesuits saw it in the 1630s for the first time—all the way up through the first Kentucky Derby, the origins of baseball, the invention of basketball, Teddy Roosevelt’s role in founding the NCAA and up to the present

Legends of the sacred game: Deninger with Jacques, left, Chief Powless, top, and Stenersen. (Courtesy Dennis Deninger)
Legends of the sacred game: Deninger with Jacques, left, Chief Powless, top, and Stenersen. (Courtesy Dennis Deninger)

day. That was the first two months of the semester—the last month of the semester, we focused on one topic. This year it was lacrosse. Each of our 15 students had to do a final research project that focused on lacrosse, and we’ve taken that research and hired a production company to work with us.

Who have you interviewed for the documentary?
We are not completely done, but we have interviewed 46 people so far. It’s going to be tough because this is only a one-hour documentary, so nobody gets to talk for more than a minute. We have strict rules here. [Laughs.] We’ve been to Baltimore to interview Steve Stenersen, the president and chief executive officer of U.S. Lacrosse. I interviewed Neal Powless who is an assistant director of the Native Student Program here at Syracuse; I also interviewed [Onondaga] Chief Irving Powless. There is a long list of lacrosse standouts in the Powless family. We also visited Alf Jacques, an Onondaga lacrosse stick-maker. It’s amazing to watch the stick being created—we were in the workshop for a few hours.

I talked to a number of Native American players and coaches, including Darris and Rich Kilgour [Tuscarora Nation] of the Buffalo Bandits in the National Lacrosse League. We’ve talked to women and men players. There is a young man who is a freshman at Onondaga Community College, Warren Hill, a goalie for the Iroquois Nationals. He grew up on Six Nations in southern Ontario. He is an all-world goalie and so humble about his accomplishments.

We sat down with Stan Cockerton, the president of the Federation of International Lacrosse. We found out about the effort to make lacrosse an Olympic sport again. We spoke with Jim Calder who is a co-author of Lacrosse, The Ancient Game. I spoke with Curt Styres, the owner of a Major League Lacrosse and a National Lacrosse League franchise. I also talked to him about the Lacrosse for Development Program, which is helping to fund an effort to put hundreds of sticks into the hands of indigenous young people to develop their knowledge of the ancient and sacred origins of the sport.

I have heard [Onondaga Turtle Clan Faithkeeper and Iroquois Nationals honorary chairman] Oren Lyons speak, and we are still waiting to interview him. I don’t want to go on without having his voice in this.

One of the longest interviews was with Chief Powless in his home. He is in his 80s now and confined to a wheelchair. We talked for over an hour and he told me wonderful stories of when he was 144 pounds playing against [NFL and lacrosse legend] Jim Brown. He talked about his knowledge of the hip bump and how he knocked Jim Brown on his back. When we stopped the interview, he says ‘Dennis, is that it? There’s so much more to tell!’ And that is true, there is so much more to tell.

When is this film due to be finished?
It will serve as the centerpiece for a symposium we are planning at Syracuse University on April 22 (Read more: ‘America’s First Sport’ Lacrosse Documentary Premiere and Symposium TODAY). We will play the film and have guests talk about the current state of lacrosse and the issues it faces, and where it is headed. We are hopeful to get an air date on the local PBS station and beyond that. We set our standards pretty high. If it goes beyond the local PBS station, that would be wonderful.

Where do you see lacrosse going?

I see a distinct trend toward making it more diverse. It separated in the 1860s and 1870s, when the Europeans set down rules. They said the Natives are professionals and professionals can’t play—because they were too damn good! The sport separated at that time.

What is encouraging to me is to see lacrosse programs get diverse youth involved, the recognition Native players are getting and how there is an opportunity for the Iroquois Nationals to compete as a team at the Olympics beginning in 2024. How exciting would that be?

I think there are wonderful things that lie ahead for lacrosse.

Related story:

Cinderella Story: Iroquois Ironmen Win Creator’s Cup Lacrosse Title