A fast-food restaurant chain has apologized for an offensive sign displayed in front of a store saying the Kansas City Chiefs would “scalp” the Washington Redskins football team during Sunday’s game.
The sign sparked an outcry after a picture of the message board outside a Belton, Misso., Sonic restaurant started circulating on twitter. The sign read “ ‘KC CHIEFS’ WILL SCALP THE REDSKINS FEED THEM WHISKEY SEND - 2 - RESERVATIONS.”
One person wrote to Sonic in response “Love your drinks, but this sign is completely out of line. WTH are you thinking?” and another said “Horrified! How is this okay?”
Patrick Lenow, vice president of public relations at Sonic, told NBC News that an employee who is “known for creative use of his signs,” was responsible for the message.
“The remarks posted on this message board were wrong, offensive and unacceptable,” Lenow said in a statement. “In a misguided effort to support his football team an independent franchise owner allowed passion to override good judgment. The owner has reinforced with his employees the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable. On behalf of the franchise owner and our entire brand we apologize for the offensive remarks.”
Local Kansas City station WDAF reported the sign was up for only 15 minutes, taken down after the owner saw it.
Although both teams’ mascots make reference to Native Americans, the Redskins name has come under intense scrutiny in recent months with members of the Native American community urging the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, to scrap the name because of its heavily racist undertones.
Critics pushing for the name change have often pointed to the term’s link with the practice of “scalping” wherein early white settlers were encouraged to help wipe out the Native American populations by providing the scalps of “redskins” in return for cash rewards.
The Oneida Nation has been a driving force behind recent opposition to the Redskins name which the group insists in a slur. President Obama even weighed in on the matter in an interview last month, saying that if he were the owner he would consider changing the team name.
But Snyder has repeatedly defended the name, saying this year he would never change it. In October he penned an open letter to the “Washington Redskins Nation” in which he said he “respect[s] the opinions of those who disagree,” but that keeping the name would “preserve [the team’s] heritage.”
The Chiefs ultimately beat the Redskins by a whopping 35-point margin in Sunday’s game, the team’s fifth straight loss.