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FCC considering petition to ban Washington NFL team name from television

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is considering a petition that would ban Washington's team name from television, striking another potential blow to a moniker widely deemed to be offensive.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing a petition asking that the Washington NFL team name be banned from television stations, according to the National Journal. The petition, filed by a George Washington law professor, claims that the name "Redskins" should be banned for violating federal rules barring indecent content from appearing on broadcast television.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler acknowledged the petition at a press conference Tuesday.

"There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used for a time that are inappropriate today," Wheeler said. "I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those."

Wheeler has said that he personally finds the team name offensive, but stopped short of saying it is illegal. Harsher opinions have been issued against the team name by former FCC officials. Last year, former FCC chiefs penned a letter deriding the Washington franchise and calling for the current FCC administration to act.

CBS fired Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder in 1988 for making racially derogatory remarks. ESPN - a cable channel, not a broadcasting channel - apologized for remarks that sportscaster Brent Musburger made in January about the girlfriend of the University of Alabama's quarterback.

If broadcasters follow their own tradition, they will insist that Snyder no longer put them in the intolerable position of using a derogatory term to describe his team. So, too, should the FCC applaud broadcasters for pursuing the name change.

Action by the FCC would put even more pressure on team owner Dan Snyder to change the name of his football team. Earlier this year, the U.S. Patent Office canceled Washington's registrations on its team names. Snyder has appealed the decision. If he loses, Washington would no longer be able to claim trademark rights on the team name, opening it up to be monetized by others and erasing a significant source of revenue for the organization.