Roger Goodell Sends Letter to Congress Defending Washington Redskins' Name

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJune 12, 2013

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has responded to the U.S. Congress after 10 members recently reached out to the league regarding the Washington Redskins' nickname, according to USA Today's Erik Brady.

Per Brady's report, Goodell referred to the franchise's nickname as "a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."

Goodell's letter to Congress featured interviews with an Inuit chief and a Patawomeck chief, both of whom did not find the nickname offensive. The letter in full can be viewed via Indian Country Today Media Network.

House of Representatives delegate Eni Faleomavaega responded, saying "for the head of a multi-billion dollar sports league to embrace the twisted logic that ‘Redskin’ actually ‘stands for strength, courage, pride and respect’ is a statement of absurdity," according to The Washington Post's Cindy Boren.

It's important to note that Faleomavaega, a delegate of American Samoa, recently introduced a bill in the House that would abolish any trademarks that feature the term "Redskins."    

Last month, 10 members of Congress reached out to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder requesting that he change the team's nickname, according to The Washington Post's Mike Jones

The letters were sent to Snyder, Goodell, FedEx CEO and president Frederick Smith and the other NFL owners and included the following argument, via Jones:

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.

Such offensive epithets would no doubt draw wide-spread disapproval among the NFL’s fanbase. Yet the national coverage of Washington’s NFL football team profits from a term that is equally disparaging to Native Americans.

Snyder has maintained a strong stance on the issue ever since the debate started heating up, telling USA Today that the Washington Redskins "will never change their nickname."

Although Congress has taken issue with Snyder and the NFL's position, an AP national poll conducted on the topic earlier this year found that close to 80 percent of Americans take no issue with the Redskins' nickname and don't think the franchise should change it.

With neither side looking to soften its position anytime soon, it's safe to say that this debate is only going to intensify. 


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