President Obama says he'd think about changing the name of the Washington Redskins if he were team owner and knew the name offended people.
"People get pretty attached to team names, mascots," Obama told the Associated Press, adding, "I've got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team -- even if it had a storied history -- that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it."
He added, "But I don't want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team, and rightly so -- even though they've been having a pretty tough time this year.
"But I think -- all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it," he said. "And I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things."
But Obama noted that "I don't have a stake in this in the sense that I'm not a part owner of any football team," musing, "maybe after I leave this --
"Maybe after I leave the presidency. I think it would be a lot of fun."
But Obama acknowledged, "I'd probably look at a basketball team before I looked at a football team. I know more about basketball than I do about football."
An attorney for the team said Obama apparently isn't familiar with polls that say the name shouldn't be changed. In a statement, Lanny Davis said the name is an "honor not disparagement.
"As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the president is not aware that in the highly respected Annenberg Institute poll (taken 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the 'Washington Redskins,' " Davis said. "The president made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that eight out of ten of all Americans in a national sample don't think the Washington Redskins name should be changed."
The team respects "everyone," Davis said, adding "But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama's home town ), we love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group."
He noted the team name is 80 years old - "it's our history and legacy and tradition. We Redskins fans sing 'hail to the Redskins' every Sunday as a word of honor not disparagement."