LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owner Daniel Snyder are standing firmly together in defending the name of the Washington Redskins.
Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) wholeheartedly disagrees with their position and says the name is no different than two of the most derogatory terms used toward African and Latin Americans.
“Whether good intentioned or not, the ‘R’ word is a racial slur akin to the ‘N’ word among African Americans, or the ‘W’ word among Latin Americans,” Faleomavaega said on the House floor Tuesday.
“America would not stand for a team called the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Yellowskins.’ Such offensive terms or words would no doubt draw widespread disapproval among the National Football League’s fan base. And yet coverage by our national media and sponsors of Washington’s football franchise profit from a term that is equally disparaging to Native Americans.”
Faleomavaega, who has been in office since 1989, also feels the NFL is being hypocritical of itself by allowing use of ‘Redskins.’
“Such arrogance is wholly inconsistent with the National Football League’s diversity policy which states: ‘Diversity is critically important to the NFL. It is a cultural and organizational imperative about dignity, respect, inclusion and opportunity.’ ” he said.
In a letter addressed to 10 members of Congress, commissioner Godell stated the name is “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect,” according to USA Today.
The letter, dated June 5 and released Tuesday, came in response to a letter received by the commissioner in May from the same members of Congress. In that letter, legislators urged Goodell to “take a stand” against the name.
“[F]rom its origin [the name] represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,” Goodell wrote. He added that the name was never “meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group.”
The commissioner concedes the issues surrounding the name are “complex” but also pointed to polls that show a large number of Native Americans do not find the term offensive.