Tress Way a longtime Redskin

ASHBURN, Va. -- He’s not about to be sucked into a controversy, not after just winning a job for a team he signed with two weeks ago.

Washington Redskins punter Tress Way, though, understands the nickname controversy -- and has since his high school playing days.

Way played for Tulsa Union High School in Oklahoma whose nickname also happens to be the Redskins. They’ve received pressure to change their name but have resisted.

While Way didn’t want to discuss the team’s name, he did talk with excitement about one of his high school’s traditions. The topic arose because he was talking about what signing with Washington meant to him and those he played sports with in high school.

At football games, players ran onto the field through a teepee with smoke coming out, chanting, Way said, “All my life I want to be a Redskin.” Then they would chant, “Work, work, baby, work, work.” So, after signing with the Redskins last month, Way said he received 65 texts from high school buddies filled with the Redskin line.

“I had work, work, baby, work, work just copy and pasted to everybody,” Way said.

As for his high school, the National Congress of American Indians urged them last year to change their nickname, pointing out that 28 other high schools have done so. Tulsa Union declined.

According to the Oklahoman, Tulsa Union issued a statement in response, saying, “Union community members of all races tell us this is not an issue divided strictly on the lines of race. The debate appears to be between some people outside of this district who have a different opinion as to how people inside this school district should believe, feel, and identify themselves. It is those within the Union community that the district serves.

“Definitions need to be in context of time, place and usage. In this day and age, in the Union community, ‘Redskins' is not derogatory; rather it defines a diverse, yet close-knit community that exhibits great pride and spirit in its schools and programs as well as in its determination and traditions of success.”