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U.S. Senators pressure NFL to have Washington Redskins change their name

Will the lobbying by 50 U.S. Senators finally change Dan Snyder's mind to change his team's name?
Will the lobbying by 50 U.S. Senators finally change Dan Snyder's mind to change his team's name?
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

If Clippers owner Donald Sterling can get banned from all NBA activities and fined $2.5 million, how can Dan Snyder keep getting away with having his NFL team be named the Redskins? A large chunk of Democratic Senators have had enough and are calling on the NFL to request a name change of the Washington D.C. franchise. Signed by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and backed by 49 of her colleagues in the U.S. Senate, an open letter was sent to Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, on Thursday.

With Sterling’s racist rant still looming like a cloud of L.A. smog, the 50 Senators – 48 Democrats and two Independents – agreed, like most Americans, that there is “no place for racism in professional sports” (or anywhere, for that matter). While it would be near impossible to stop racism in all forms, asking the Redskins to change their name is a rather simple request.

Native Americans are highly offended by the logo and name of the Redskins. They do not take offense to the Cleveland Indians organization, even though it’s a bit politically incorrect; they’re even proud of college mascots such as the Seminoles. But make no mistake: the term Redskin is a slur targeted at Native Americans. It’s a direct insult to the skin pigment of an entire group of people. A sports franchise named the “N-words” or “Honkies” would never be allowed (although there is a basketball team in Colorado named the Fighting Whites), yet the Washington Redskins have held a racist moniker since 1932.

Team owner Dan Snyder has refused time and again to change his team’s name. Native American advocacy groups, fans, politicians and others have pressured him on multiple occasions. Even though he has been hit with waves of backlash, Snyder is adamant about keeping his team name, insisting that Native Americans continue to support the name as well as mischaracterizing it as “not being an issue.”

Tolerance has changed with the times, yet Snyder’s philosophy is still as outdated as the Three-Fifths Compromise. Remember when the cross-town Washington Bullets changed their team name to the Wizards in hope to curb violent crimes in the city? These are two clearly different examples, but it didn’t end up poorly for the NBA franchise.

If the team’s name were changed from the Redskins, what would be an appropriate change? Examiner’s own Mark Schiff has an idea that is as compromising as it is genius:

The solution is so obvious it drives me nuts: Change their name to the Pigskins. They can still go by the Skins, it honors the hog guys, and it’s just perfect. PETA would no doubt take offense, but still, perfect compromise. Make it so, NFL!”

Just like Sterling is able to keep ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, the NFL cannot force the Washington Redskins change their name. Perhaps if the pressure builds, and Snyder gets annoyed past the brink of frustration, these Senators and offended Native Americans will finally achieve what they’ve long been working towards.