Despite opposition from various groups, including some members of the US Congress, Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in May, "We will never change the name of the team." On Wednesday, Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, the non-voting delegate from American Samoa, took to the House floor to denounce the Redskins name (via the Washington Post).
“Mr. Speaker, it's time the National Football League and the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, face the reality that the continued use of the word ‘Redskin' is unacceptable," Faleomavaega said. "It is a racist, derogatory term and patently offensive to Native Americans. The Native American community has spent millions of dollars over the past two decades trying earnestly to fight the racism that is perpetuated by this slur.
“The fact that the NFL and commissioner Goodell continue to deny this is a shameful treatment of the mistreatment of Native Americans for so many years. It is quite obvious that once the American public understands why ‘Redskins' is so offensive, it will know that the word should never be used again."
In late May, Faleomavaega, along with nine other House members, sent letters to Snyder, FedEx CEO Frederick Smith (FedEx is one of the franchise's sponsors) and Goodell explaining "the violent history and disparaging nature of the term 'Redskins.'"
As of Wednesday, Snyder had yet to respond. Goodell did, however, in a letter that Faleomavaega described as "dismissive."
“Mr. Goodell, however, in a dismissive manner, declared that the team's name is a ‘unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect," Faleomavaega said. "Give me a break, Mr. Speaker. In other words, the National Football League is telling everyone, Native Americans included, that they cannot be offended because the NFL means no offense. It is absolute absurdity.”
Snyder might choose to dig in his heels on the issue -- or just hope it goes away altogether -- but it doesn't sound like Congress has any plans on dropping this anytime soon.
Back in January, Goodell was asked about the "Redskins" name.
"I do know that, growing up in Washington, I do understand the affinity for that name with the fans," Goodell said at the time. "I also understand the other side of that, and I don't think anybody wants to offend anybody, but this has been discussed several times over a long period of time. I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they're proud of that heritage and that name, and I believe the fans are, too.”
Snyder, meanwhile, was unequivocal in where he stood on the matter.
"We'll never change the name," he said. "It's that simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."