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Atlanta's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Atlanta, Georgia | 11alive.com

Source: MLB commissioner mistakenly said Atlanta Braves were phasing out Tomahawk Chop

An 11Alive source said that Rob Manfred meant to praise the Braves for eliminating Chief Noc-A-Homa many years ago, but inadvertently referenced the Chop cheer.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves ostensibly phased out the laughing Indian component of their logo years ago, minus some best-seller T-shirts on Major League Baseball's MLBShop.com page.

In the meantime, things had been rather quiet regarding Atlanta's nickname choice.

The situation got some awkward attention Monday, however, after a post on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk referenced a recent comment from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, specifically involving the Braves.

"The Braves have taken steps to take out the Tomahawk Chop," said Manfred, in a mid-February discussion with The Washington Post, regarding potentially insensitive team nicknames. "I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that."

Citing sources with intimate knowledge of this situation, 11Alive Sports has learned that Commissioner Manfred simply misspoke regarding the state of the Tomahawk Chop, which has been a staple of Braves home games since 1991.

(Braves fans began mimicking Florida State's own Tomahawk Chop during their National League pennant run in '91, as a means of welcoming FSU alum Deion Sanders to the club.)

Additionally, our source said that Manfred had intended to praise the Braves for removing Chief Noc-A-Homa brand from in-game action and merchandising, a measure that was phased out after the 1986 season.

Monday's inside information syncs up with our source's assertion the Tomahawk Chop hasn't been banned by the Braves.

Had this been the case, a number of subsequent storylines and/or probing questions would have come to the forefront:

a) If the Braves were planning to phase out the Tomahawk Chop, why could fans still purchase How To Chop T-shirts on page 2 of the team's online store?

b) Would the Braves have approved the "Chop On Tomahawk Giveaway" promotion for April 1, celebrating the club's home opener versus the Cubs?

c) Would the Braves have considered changing the name of the Coors Light Chop House Deck, a popular mingling spot occupying various levels of the right-field stands?

d) SunTrust Park (which opened in 2017) has garnered universal praise for its design and amenities; and yet, it's fair to wonder if MLB would have used the Tomahawk Chop exodus as a bargaining chip against Atlanta hosting an All-Star Game within the next 5-8 years.

(Cleveland and Los Angeles are the All-Star sites for 2019 and 2020, respectively.)

e) Even if the club stopped initiating the Tomahawk Chop through the team organist, would Braves fans rebel against the team, by starting their own cheer/chant on a whim?

f) And if so, would the Braves take measures to ban fans who partake in a non-sanctioned Tomahawk Chop – if given enough pressure from the MLB front office or public-at-large?

It's worth noting: Last month, Phillip Yenyo, the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, praised the Cleveland Indians for eliminating the "Chief Wahoo" logo from apparel. 

In that same New York Times article, Yenyo also called for the Braves to change their name, the franchise's uninterrupted moniker since 1941 (with Boston, Milwaukee, Atlanta).