NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stood by Washington, D.C.’s pro-football team’s “Redskins” name in a letter to members to Congress after they urged him to force a change.
In his letter, Goodell traced the “Redskins” name to when the franchise was originally the Boston Braves — “a name that honored the courage and heritage of Native Americans” — until it was changed to “Redskins” to avoid confusion with a local baseball team. He explained that the name “from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context.”
Goodell also cited public-opinion polls showing support for the name, including among American Indians, as well as court rulings that permitted the use of “Redskins.”
“The name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect,” he wrote.
Congressional Native American Caucus co-chairman Betty McCollum (D., Minn.) rejected Goodell’s case, calling it “twisted logic,” “a statement of absurdity,” and the “NFL’s attempt to justify a racial slur.” Last month, McCollum and the caucus sent a letter to Goodell, Redskins team-owner Dan Snyder, and other team owners urging them to change the team’s name.
In his letter, Goodell stated that the league would continue to work with the caucus “to continue to reinforce the many positive attributes represented by the team’s name and marks.”