WASHINGTON — Saying the Washington Redskins name amounts to a racial slur, Rep. Tom Cole and a Democratic senator are urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to push for it to be changed.
Cole, R-Moore, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., sent a letter to Goodell on Monday, saying that the league is “on the wrong side of history” and that it was inappropriate for the tax-exempt organization to “profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people.”
Cole is a member of the Chickasaw Nation; he joined a similar letter sent last year by 10 members of Congress to Goodell and Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
The new letter cites remarks Goodell made at a pre-Super Bowl news conference, when he said the team presented the name in a way that has “honored Native Americans.”
“But if you look at the numbers, including Native American communities, nine out of 10 supported the name,” Goodell said at the news conference last month. “Eight out of 10 in the general American population would not like us to change the name.”
Cole and Cantwell responded that the polling was a decade old. The National Congress of American Indians, which represents 250 tribes, considers the name racially offensive and wants it changed, the lawmakers said. They also noted that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office determined late last year that the term Redskin is “derogatory slang.”
“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 states.
“It is time for the National Football League to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.”
The team also has defended the name. According to NFL.com, a team spokesman on Monday cited “almost 200” recent letters and emails of support from people who identified themselves as American Indians or family members of American Indians.