Fifty United States senators signed a letter sent to the NFL urging the league to force Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the teams’ name. This comes after senate majority leader Harry Reid recently stated the NFL should follow the NBA’s example to end racism and bigotry. The letter states:
“The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” said the letter, which was circulated by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and endorsed by Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader. “We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team.”
However, even in the face of mounting political pressure, the NFL continues to support the Redskins name and Snyder’s efforts not to change it. I maintain my contention that Snyder should change the name, not because it’s politically incorrect or offensive, but because it’s a huge distraction for the team.
And with more and more politicians getting behind this fight, the distraction will only become bigger. Reid and others have mentioned possibly interfering with the NFL’s tax exempt status, or having the trademark on the Redskins name rejected. By not flinching in their support of the name, the NFL seems to be daring the politicians to try these tactics.
The NBA recently banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after he made racially offensive remarks. This seems to have emboldened the senators to ramp up their criticism of the Redskins name. But I’ve said it before, this issue doesn’t come close to rivaling the Donald Sterling controversy, no matter how much the politicians want it to.
The same amount of outrage doesn’t exist for the NFL to make an immediate change. And the NBA was also motivated to ban Sterling when corporate sponsors began pulling their support in response to it. That has yet to happen to the NFL, and even if it does I get the feeling that Dan Snyder will continue to fight this, even if the NFL asks him to change the name.