NFL Commissioner Tells Congress 'Redskins' Is a Positive Name
Ten members of Congress sent a letter May 13 to Daniel Snyder, owner of the NFL’s Washington, D.C., franchise, urging him to change the club's name. Similar letters were sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, FedEx President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Smith (FedEx is a sponsor of Snyder’s franchise, and the team plays at FedExField), and the owners of the NFL’s other 31 clubs. (Read more: Congress Members to Daniel Snyder: Change Your Team's Name)
In their letter, the ten representatives stated, “Native Americans throughout the country consider the R-word a racial, derogatory slur akin to theN-word among African Americans or the W-word among Latinos. 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.” (Read the entire letter here.)
Although Snyder has not responded to the Congress members, sticking to his "We will NEVER drop Redskins name" guns, NFL Commissioner Goodell has. In a letter dated June 5 and sent to the co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) and Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), both of whom are among the 10 Congress members who sent the the letter to Snyder and Goodell and cosponsors of the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013 (H.R. 1278), Goodell spelled out the NFL's position.
"The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context," writes Goodell. "For the team's millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America's most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.
Curiously, Goodell refers to an interview on Redskins.com with "a full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska," as evidence to support the NFL's position.
Read Goodell's entire letter here. (Related: Congress Members Respond to NFL Commissioner's Support for 'Redskins' Name)