Posted February 10, 2014

Two members of Congress send letter to NFL about Redskins name change

Senator Maria Cantwell (Bill Clark/Getty Images)

Senator Maria Cantwell is ready to take action to force the Redskins to change their name. (Bill Clark/Getty Images)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, will send a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday telling him to announce his support for a name change for the Washington Redskins.

Here is a copy of the letter from the Washington Post.

Cantwell also said her committee will examine the NFL’s tax-exempt status as a way to apply pressure to change the name.

 “The National Football League can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter read.

“You’re getting a tax break for educational purposes, but you’re still embracing a name that people see as a slur and encouraging it,” Cantwell told The New York Times.

The Redskins have received “more than 7,000 letters and emails” in favor of keeping the name, including “almost 200 from people who identified themselves as Native Americans or as family members of Native Americans,” the team said in a statement Monday.

Goodell has declined to take a formal stance on the debate, and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been adamant in saying the name will never change.

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I wish they'd sent the NFL a letter letting them know Congress was considering revoking their tax exempt status instead. 


To add a little historical context to the team's current name, George Preston Marshall purchased the team in 1932 as the Boston Braves and the next year changed the name to the Redskins.  Five years later the team moved to Washington, DC and as the southern most team in the league, east of the Mississippi, the games were widely broadcast to the southern region of the country, essentially becoming "the NFL team of the South".  The owner was a staunch segregationist and fought hard to maintain an all white team.  Shirley Povich, a local DC sports writer at the time, often wrote quotes such as "Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated the end zone 3 times yesterday". For 16 years, Marshall refused to integrate the team with black players until intervention from the White House Cabinet and the League Commissioner, ending the team's status as the last all white NFL team. In 1962, Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis became the first black player drafted by the Redskins, although he was immediately traded to the Browns for Bobby Mitchell, who is also African American.   

With the knowledge of Marshall's racial politics, I can hardly see the name being changed from the "Braves" to the "Redskins" as an honor to Native Americans.  And for those who contend that the name is not a pejorative, a simple glance in any dictionary will clearly dismiss of that argument.  Further, only Native American are in a position to state whether the name is offensive or not.  Even if not all Native Americans are offended by the name, if some consider it a racial slur (as I'm sure many, as well as others, do) the name the name is a slur and should not be used by the team.  Sometimes it takes outside intervention to force organizations to do what is right, fair and/or just.  SImply replace the word "segregation" with "Redskins" and current Washington owner Dan Snyder begins to appear on the same side of history as then Alabama Governor George Wallace, "Segregation (Redskins) then, segregation (Redskins) now, segregation (Redskins) forever!"


When did liberals become the least tolerant  people in America?


Blow it out your bagpipes. There are far more important issues in this country. Most Natives I know are avid Redskin Fans. The name was never intent as a slur. It is not used as a slur. PC idiots feeling guilty for their own crimes are attacking others to make themselves feel better. Hey Senator, How about fixing the economy, taking care of our Vets, Returning America's civil rights, ending the waste in government, and getting this country back on its feet instead of chastising an Institution you obviously know little about.