NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the controversial Washington Redskins nickname in a letter to Congress, claiming the name represents "a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect," USA Today reported.
Goodell's letter, publicly disclosed on Tuesday by US Representative Betty McCollum and Delegate Eni Faleomavaega, came in response to 10 members of Congress who had asked him to "take a stand against the use of the word 'redskin' as the Washington franchise's name."
In the letter, dated June 5, Goodell wrote that the nickname "from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context." He also said that the nickname was never "meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group."
Both representatives of Congress rebuked Goodell's letter, calling into question the commissioner's "twisted logic."
Said McCollum, the co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus:
"Goodell's letter is another attempt to justify a racial slur on behalf of [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder and other NFL owners who appear to be only concerned with earning even larger profits, even if it means exploiting a racist stereotype of Native Americans."
"Would Roger Goodell and Dan Snyder actually travel to a Native American community and greet a group of tribal leaders by saying, 'Hey, what's up redskin?' I think not," McCollum added.
The commissioner's letter included research polls claiming that the public, and many Native Americans, weren't offended by the nickname.
"As you correctly recognize, the issues raised with respect to the Washington Redskins name are complex, and we respect that reasonable people may view it differently," Goodell wrote. "The National Football League takes seriously its responsibility to exemplify the values of diversity and inclusion that make our country great."
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