One of the NFL’s most historic franchises is facing increasing pressure to change its team nickname.
Ten members of Congress have asked the Washington Redskins to change their name because it is offensive to many Native Americans. Letters have been sent to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins sponsor FedEx and the other 31 NFL franchises, ESPN reported.
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, congressman for the American Samoa, issued a release about the letter. Joining Faleomavaega in the effort were Tom Cole (Oklahoma), Betty McCollum (Minnesota), Raul M. Grijalva (Arizona), Gwen Moore (Wisconsin), Michael M. Honda (California), Donna M. Christensen (Virginia Islands), Zoe Lofgren and Barbara Lee (California) Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).
According to the letter: "Native Americans throughout the country consider the 'R-word' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the 'N-word' among African Americans or the 'W-word' among Latinos."
“Such offensive epithets would no doubt draw wide-spread 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. In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs. The usage of the [“R-word”] is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem. It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people.”
Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said, “I think it’s a non-issue and it’s been a non-issue for decades. We really don’t get the talk that other people get because we hear from our fans. And our fans will always be our fans of the Washington Redskins.”
Snyder was a little harsher about the matter. “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use all caps,” said the owner.