Terry Francona said the lack of ill-intentions isn’t enough anymore.

Francona, the former Boston Red Sox manager who is in his eighth season leading the Cleveland Indians used to answer questions about the Eastern Ohio baseball team’s controversial mascot by saying he didn’t think the team meant to harm or offend anyone.

Chief Wahoo is gone (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful,” Francona told Cleveland.com during a Zoom call from Progressive Field. “And I still feel that way. But I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today. … I think it’s time to move forward.”

It appears that Cleveland’s leadership agrees. The Indians announced Friday that they’re exploring making a change.

Cleveland Indians considering changing team name: ‘We embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality’

The Indians announcement came a year after retiring its “Chief Wahoo” logo last season at the urging of commissioner Rob Manfred, and hours after the Washington Redskins announced they were considering changing their even more controversial moniker.

Washington Redskins name change likely: Amidst mounting pressure team leaning toward new mascot (report)

Francona said he didn’t want to be the type of person who’d rather dig in their heels on a long-held wrong opinion rather than be willing to evolve with new perspective.

“You don’t want to be too old to learn or to realize that, maybe I’ve been ignorant of some things, and to be ashamed of it, and to try to be better,” Francona said. I’m glad that we’re going to be open to listening. Because I think that’s probably the most important thing right now, is being willing to listening, not necessarily just talk.”

If the Cleveland Indians change their name, what should the team be called?

The willingness of the Indians and Redskins to adjust some previous intractable stances comes at a time when sports is influencing the national conversation on racial injustice in society and that conversation is in turn influencing sports in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota.

NASCAR has banned the Confederate Flag at events and pressure from the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA helped influence Mississippi to change its state flag which previous included the symbol of the Confederacy.

The NFL has altered its stance on player protests and the NBA is helping its players use the national television platform of the season restart to promote causes of racial justice.


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