The U.S. National Football League is being urged by 50 members of the Senate to press the Washington Redskins to change the team name in the aftermath of the N.B.A. sanctions against the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for racially charged comments. “The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” says a letter by the 50 Senate members, which was circulated by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and endorsed by Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader. “We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team.”
According to The New York Times, Maria Cantwell said that “we are going to find out if the N.F.L. can act against this kind of discrimination as quickly as the N.B.A. did.” She said she considered the Senate letter an important milestone. Having declared the push for the name change a top interest, Reid said in an interview that he could not understand the league’s resisting the senators on the name change given other pressing disputes it was navigating, including head injuries and the health of former players. “I have 22 tribal organizations in Nevada,” Reid said. “They are not mascots. They are human beings. And this term Redskins is offensive to them.”
The position embraced by half of the Senate, and the willingness of the lawmakers to sign a formal
request to N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell, escalated the fight over the name and represented an
effort to put increasing pressure on the league, which receives a federal tax break, and the ownership of the team. All but five Senate Democrats signed the letter. It was not circulated among Republicans.
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This article was republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba, the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern.