WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is encouraged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has begun the process of shifting his tone on the Redskins name debate.
“Roger Goodell knows that a disparaging name for a NFL team implicates the league and its good name,” Holmes Norton said in a press release on Friday.
Goodell, who admittedly grew up a Redskins fan in the D.C. area, spoke candidly on the issue to 106.7 The Fan’s Lavar and Dukes Wednesday, saying, “if one person is offended, we have to listen.”
This was a seismic shift from his previous stance on the team’s name. In June, Goodell responded to a letter from Holmes Norton and nine other members of Congress urging him to change the name, by saying ‘Redskins’ is a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
The Congressional letter labeled the name ‘Redskins’ as a “derogatory slur,” likening it to the “N-word among African Americans or the W-word among Latinos.”
“[Goodell] may be alert to the fact that on four separate occasions, the Patent and Trademark Office has refused to register any trademark containing the name ‘Redskins’ on grounds of disparagement,” Holmes Norton said Friday. “And that but for a technicality, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruling in 1999 that the name was offensive under federal trademark law already would have succeeded in causing a name change.”
“The legal handwriting is on the wall, and Goodell’s statement makes clear that this issue has become troublesome to the National Football League,” Holmes Norton continued. “The team is so loved by us all in this region that it is inconceivable that a name change to eliminate an ethnic slur would diminish admiration.”
“Particularly, in the team’s multi-ethnic region, the reasons for the change would be embraced,” she concluded.
Holmes Norton is scheduled to address the issue with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 8 a.m., which can be viewed on ESPN2.
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