Lawmakers call NFL on Redskins name: it's an insult, not honor

Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:25pm EST
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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 January 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.   Continued...

A man stands at a window lit by the NFL logo as he watches performances during the 2012 NFL kickoff show in New York September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson