News

Lawmakers to NFL: Redskins name an ‘insult’

Lawmakers to NFL: Redskins name an ‘insult’

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: In a letter to the National Football League, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, and Republican U.S. Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma criticized the league for defending the name. Photo: Associated Press

By Susan Heavey and Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. lawmakers on Monday rejected the National Football League’s claim that the Washington Redskins name was an honor to Native Americans and urged the sports league to recognize it as a racial slur and back changing the name.

In a letter to the National Football League, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, and Republican U.S. Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma criticized the league for defending the name.

“The terminology used by the Washington football team has been determined to be a slur,” the lawmakers said.

“It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans. We are calling on you and the National Football League to take a formal position in support of a name change,” they wrote in the letter, first reported by The New York Times.

A representative for the Redskins, in an email to Reuters, dismissed the lawmakers’ request. The NFL had no immediate reaction.

The letter follows recent comments by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in support of the Redskins’ moniker, which team owner Dan Snyder has vowed not to change.

“Let me remind you this is the name of a football team, a football team that has had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that has honored Native Americans,” Goodell said at a Jan. 31 news conference. He said the league respected those who disagreed but cited polling figures showing support for the Redskins name.

On Monday, the lawmakers shot back.

“For you to pretend that the name is defensible based on decade-old public opinion polling flies in the face of our constitutionally protected government-to-government relationship with tribes,” wrote Cantwell, who heads the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and one of two Native American congressmen, according to his office.

Both Oklahoma and Washington state are home to dozens of federally recognized Native American tribes.

Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie, in an email to Reuters, chided the lawmakers for focusing on the team’s name given other pressing national issues.

“With all the important issues Congress has to deal with such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘Red People’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic,” said Wyllie.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Reuters that the league received the letter and would later respond “in an appropriate manner.”

(Additional reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Dan Grebler and Bernard Orr)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Only arguing remains in Sterling trail

Fresh
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. With a $2 billion sale of the Clippers hanging in the balance, a judge is set to determine Monday, June 30, 2014, if the terms of a family trust alone are enough to confirm Donald Sterling was properly removed as trustee and allow his estranged wife to sell the team without his consent.

Only final arguments and a ruling remain in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

in Local

Memo details first ideas on truck safety in Ithaca

Fresh
common council

CIty's Board of Public Works will discuss options presented by city transportation engineer during Monday meeting

in Local

Cuomo defends handling of corruption panel

Fresh
cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is defending his handling of an anti-corruption commission, dismissing reports that his administration interfered with its work.

in Local

VP at Cornell’s NYC Tech campus to lead college in Adirondacks

CORNELL LOGO

Cathy Dove will start job at Paul Smith's College Sept. 1

in Local

Heavy rains flood out Thruway, lead to closures

Local_News41-620x400

16-mile stretch of Interstate 90 was shut down Monday morning due to significant flooding