WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Tom Cole will send a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday asking him to come out in support of changing the name of the Washington Redskins franchise.
"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 reads. “The National Football League is on the wrong side of history. It is not appropriate for this multibillion-dollar 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization to perpetuate and profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people.”
During Super Bowl week, Goodell discussed the issue.
"I've been spending the last year talking to many of the leaders in the Native American communities. We are trying to make sure we understand the issues,” he said. “Let me remind you: This is the name of a football team, a football team that's had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that it has honored Native Americans."
Cantwell is the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and Cole is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
"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.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said that he has no intention of changing his team’s name. “I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name,” he said in a letter to fans. “But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”
The team has had the name since 1933.
"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?” Redskins spokesperson Tony Wyllie said in a statement. “And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means 'Red People' in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic."
[New York Times]