Redskins

Minnesota Congresswoman Pleads for Vikings Owner to Speak Out Against Redskins Name

by Chris Lingebach
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US Congresswoman Betty McCollum.  (Photo by Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)

US Congresswoman Betty McCollum. (Photo by Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum published a letter Thursday sent to Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, pleading for him to be the first NFL team owner to take a stand against the Redskins team name.

In the letter, McCollum notes the Redskins Week 9 visit to Minnesota in the upcoming season, to be played at University of Minnesota’s stadium — the site of all Vikings home games through the 2014-15 seasons, as their new stadium is being built — as being partially funded by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, which would make hosting the Redskins a violation of the university’s “Board of Regents’ Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action Policy.”

McCollum writes:

“Dear Mr. Wilf:

“Yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled to cancel legal protections for the trademarked name of the National Football League’s Washington franchise because it is “disparaging to Native Americans.” The time for debate has ended – the name of the Washington franchise is clearly an offensive racial slur. I urge you, as an NFL team owner, to not remain silent on this matter any longer.

“Thirty-one NFL franchises split the sales of their licensed merchandise equally. As you well know, when a shirt, cap, or jersey bearing the Washington team name is sold, the Minnesota Vikings share in the profit from that sale. After yesterday’s decision, NFL owners must now ask themselves if they want to continue to profit from a name so hurtful to our Native American brothers and sisters that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed it ineligible for federal protection. By taking a stand to change the mascot, you can send a very clear message to Native Americans and all Americans that your organization no longer wishes to benefit from the commercialization of that hateful slur.”

You can read the letter in full here.

This isn’t the first time McCollum has penned a letter regarding the Redskins name.

Last October, ahead of the Redskins-Vikings Week 10 matchup in the Metrodome, the congresswoman wrote Minnesota’s governor, attorney general, both senators and then Minneapolis mayor, asking them to review “all state statues, ordinances of the City of Minneapolis, and policies of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority regarding civil rights, non-discrimination, and affirmative action” and apply them with regard to “displaying, publicly announcing, and promoting the Washington team’s racially disparaging name and logo.”

Just yesterday, McCollum issued an official statement with regards to the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s split-decision ruling to cancel the Redskins six federal trademarks, saying, “This ruling is a victory for decency. I commend the Native American petitioners and tribal leaders from across Indian Country for their courage to confront this ugly issue head on and strive for both justice and the respect they deserve.”

The Redskins certainly have been at odds with political pressure as of late. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been on a rampage to get the team to change the name, spearheading an initiative to rally 49 other senators to insist the NFL takes action.

Thus far, the name has survived. Not that a congresswoman’s letter will necessarily pressure an NFL team owner to issue a response, much less take a public stand — it may, it may not — but one would think, if there’s one action with the potential to be the backbreaker for the Redskins organization, in its fight to keep its name, it would likely be any one or multiple other team owners publicly voicing resistance to the name.

Snyder losing money is one thing. The rest of the league’s owner losing money is quite another.

[MPR News]

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