Congress Tells NFL to Change Redskins’ Name

According to ESPN, two members of Congress plan to send a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, telling him to publicly announce support of changing the name of the Redskins organization, and that the NFL can no longer ignore the issue.

The letter was written by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). Cantwell is chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee while Cole is a senior member of the appropriations committee — and a member of the Chickasaw Tribe.

“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 stated, according to the New York Times.

Cantwell told the newspaper the Indian Affairs Committee would “definitely” examine the NFL’s tax-exempt status as a means to apply pressure.

“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 Times.

The letter reinstated that the NFL it’s on the “wrong side of history.” That’s why, it stated, that the NFL should “take a formal position in support of a name change.”

Goodell has declined to do so in the past. Before the Super Bowl, Goodell told reporters that he’s working on 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. 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.”

The lawmakers’ letter rebutted Goodell’s statement, calling the name “an insult to Native Americans.”

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been adamant that he won’t change the name. But he has received steady pressure, and protests, over the past year.

Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said in a 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.”

For more on this story visit: John Keim, ESPN