Congressmen Send Letter to NFL to Change Name of Washington ‘R-Words’

by Andrew Johnson

The leaders of the Congressional Native American Caucus have sent a letter to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell to urge the executives to change the team’s name, which they call “the R-word.” Several lawmakers in recent months have made efforts to urge — and maybe even force — the team to change its name out of sensitivity to American Indians.

“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,” caucus co-chairs Tom Cole (R., Okla.) and Betty McCollum (D., Minn.) wrote in the letter. The letter goes on to say “the NFL will never fulfill its ‘Commitment to Diversity’ as long as this racial slur remains a key component of the NFL organization.”

Cole and McCollum also sent the letter to all other NFL team owners as well as FedEx chairman and CEO Frederick Smith, whose company owns the naming rights to the Redskins stadium.

Lawmakers have made several previous attempts to prompt the Redskins to change their name. Most recently, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.) introduced a bill in the House to void existing trademarks that use the name “Redskins.” D.C.’s mayor has also said that, should the team want to move from its current stadium in Maryland to one in the District, there has to be a discussion about a name change.

Snyder, on the other hand, said he will have no such conversation. ”We will never change the name of the team,” he told USA Today earlier this month.

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