Redskins, NFL face congressional pressure on franchise name

Rob Carr

Two members of Congress will send a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell requesting the NFL take a formal stance against what they believe to be a racially insensitive moniker.

Pressure continues to mount for the Washington Redskins to change what some insist is a racially insensitive name, and two members of Congress plan to throw their weight behind the movement.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) plan to send a joint letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday requesting the league "to take a formal position in support of a name change," the Washington Post reports.

Write Cantwell and Cole:

The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. It is clear that you haven't heard the leading voices of this country -- and not just Indian Country. Virtually every major civil rights organization in America has spoken out in opposition to this name including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, the Rainbow Coalition and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

The team — who's owner, Dan Snyder, has remained staunchly opposed to a name change — responded with a testy written statement:

With all the important issues Congress has to deal with such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don't they have more important issues to worry about than a football team's name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘Red People' in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.

Goodell discussed the topic in late January during his State of the NFL address before the Super Bowl, explaining that the league was "trying to make sure we understand the issues." He stated at one point that the name "has honored Native Americans."

We recognize that there are some that don't agree with the name, and we have listened and respected that. But if you look at the numbers, including in the Native American communities - in the Native American community polled, nine out of 10 supported the name. Eight out of 10 Americans in the general population would not like us to change the name. So we are listening. We are being respectful to people who disagree. But let's not forget this is the name of a football team.

The Redskins say they've received "almost 200" messages of support from Native Americans and just seven in opposition, according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.

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