Two Congressional Leaders Challenge NFL Tax-exempt Status in Name-change Debate
Two members of Congress wrote a personal letter to NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell this morning saying that the NFL is on “the wrong side of history.” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged Goodell to change the Washington NFL’s team’s name and objected to his pre-Super Bowl press conference in which he defended the team name as an "honor” to Native Americans.
“It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans,” Cantwell and Cole wrote in the letter responding to Goodell’s charge. “We are calling on you and the National Football League to take a formal position in support of a name change.”
On the Friday before the Super Bowl, Goodell was asked by a reporter during a press conference if the R-word was appropriate to refer to a Native American. Goodell swept it under the rug, saying, ''This is the name of a football team.''
But Cantwell, who has served on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee since 2001, and Cole who is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation and one of the only Native Americans currently serving in the House of Representatives, are not letting Goodell off the hook.
In the letter, Cole and Cantwell threatened the NFL’s tax-exempt status, a step which, according to John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University provides even more “ammunition” to the growing name-change movement.
“What other ‘nonprofit’ could afford to pay a commissioner like a Roger Goodell a whopping $29.5 million dollars-a-year, 15 times more, by the way, than the ‘nonprofit’ tax-exempt league gives to charity?’ Banzhaf said in a news release. “How about a league that generates $10 billion annually in profits at the same time it receives one-billion annually in government assistance. Not too shabby by the way for a ‘nonprofit.’”
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