The one bright spot in the sea of darkness and despair that was the Washington Redskins’ 2013 season was Stephen D. Dodson.
Dodson is the self-proclaimed "Chief" who stood up in support of the team’s notorious name when he was interviewed by the team’s official website and presented as "a full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska."
Dodson, a long-time Redskins fan from Prince George’s County, Md., took to the airwaves to proclaim not only his support for the team’s name, but also to speak eloquently on behalf of all American Indians, stating:
"We don’t have a problem with [the name] at all; in fact we’re honored. We’re quite honored."
As the eldest member of his bloodline, Dodson represents more than 700 remaining tribe members and talked to Redskins Nation about the positive power of the Redskins’ name.
"It’s actually a term of endearment that we would refer to each other as," he explained. "When we were on the reservation, we would call each other, ‘Hey, what’s up redskin?’ We would nickname it just ‘skins.’"
The chief's appearance, orchestrated by Redskins owner Dan Snyder and supported by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, sparked a months-long "national conversation" over the appropriateness of the name "Redskins" in the age of political correctness.
Condemnation of the name rained down on the franchise from activist groups, bloviating pint-sized sportscasters, and the professional left. One obscure left-wing outlet went so far as to issue a prohibition against printing the name "Redskins."
Unfortunately for Dodson, his newfound prominence as the voice of the pro-Redskins argument brought a deluge of media scrutiny. Eventually the game was over.
In late June, the website Deadspin reported that "Chief" Dodson was neither Chief, nor Inuit, nor law-abiding citizen.
Apparently nobody but Dodson says Dodson's really a chief. The work shirt from Charley's Crane Services that Dodson wore on Redskins Nation had ‘Chief Dodson’ stitched into it alongside the company's name. But the only references I could find to Dodson and ‘Chief’ that predate his appearance as ‘Redskin-lovin’ aboriginal royalty appeared in court records in Maryland. Case files from some of Stephen D. Dodson's scrapes with the law—involving theft, paternity, and domestic violence matters—have ‘Chief’ listed as one of the defendant's AKAs. […]
Carla Brueshaber, who identified herself as Dodson's sister, said she had nothing to do with the Indian Country Today comment, but she confirmed that Dodson wasn't as advertised on the Redskins program. ‘No, he's not a chief, not technically. It's a nickname,’ said Brueshaber.
Having been exposed as a Chief In Name Only, Dodson largely vanished from the media landscape, but the discussion he sparked tediously played out over the course of the rest of the year.
By the end of 2013, Stephen D. Dodson had gone the way of a different viral Dodson, fading into obscurity along with the Skins’ hope for another playoff appearance.