WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Cole and nine other lawmakers sent letters last week to the owner of the Washington Redskins and NFL and FedEx officials urging that the name of the professional football team be changed because it is offensive to Native Americans.
“Native Americans throughout the country consider the term ‘redskin' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word' among African Americans or the ‘W-word' among Latinos,'' the letters state.
“Such offensive epithets would no doubt draw widespread disapproval among the NFL's fan base. Yet the national coverage of Washington's NFL football team profits from a term that is equally disparaging to Native Americans.”
Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, is also co-sponsoring a bill that would cancel the federal registration of trademarks that use the word “redskin” in reference to Native Americans.
“As an NFL fan, I have always admired the Washington NFL franchise for its professionalism and excellence,” Cole said in a statement. “However, like most Native Americans, I find the name of the franchise to be insensitive and offensive.”
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has for years rejected demands to change the team name, which goes back to its days as a Boston franchise. The team plays at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters in February, “I don't think anybody wants to offend anybody. But this has been discussed over a long period of time. I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they are proud of that name and that heritage, and I think the fans are, too.”
Among the other lawmakers signing the letters was Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.
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Coburn takes aim at Congressional waste
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In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Coburn said he had reduced his own staff by seven positions last year and returned nearly $243,000 that had been allotted for his office. Coburn said Congress should lead by example.
“We cannot expect everyone else in America to pay the price of Congress' failure to set priorities,'' Coburn wrote.