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'Meet the Press' weighs in on Redskins name controversy

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

The Redskins name controversy extends beyond sports. (USATSI)

On Saturday, President Barack Obama told the Associated Press that he would "think about changing" the Redskins team name because it offends “a sizable group of people." A day later, NBC's Meet the Press addressed the issue, speaking with parties on both side of the fight.

"The Redskins name has existed for 80 years," team attorney Lanny Davis said. "The original coach of the Redskins was a Native American, "This is about loving an athletic team. It's not about disrespecting or disparaging anyone.

But Davis' explanation isn't good enough for those who have a problem with the name, including the Oneida Nation, which protested when the Redskins faced the Packers earlier this season.

"Any other ethnic would not tolerate this kind of language being used about them that's so denigrating and dehumanizing, said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

An AP poll from April 2013 showed that 79 percent of respondents didn't think the team should change its name. It's the same polling data Davis used Saturday in his rebuttal letter to Obama.

Still, some news organizations refuse to use the word "Redskins" when referring to the football team, and DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation aimed at forcing change.

"I certainly think it's a tipping point," Norton said. "I think that the handwriting is clearly on the wall."

But former Redskins great Jeff Bostic echoes many of the sentiments Davis expressed in his letter to Obama. "I think it's a sense of pride," Bostic said. "When we were fortunate enough to wear the burgundy and gold, we were proud to be called Redskins, and we were proud to represent our nation's capital."

When asked whether the name should stay or go, Meet the Press panelist Steve Inskeep offered this: "Well, you want something really scary as a football team name, so the 'Washington Debt Limits would be a much better thing to do."

Back on earth, the Oneida Nation will hold a conference in DC Monday, which will coincide with the NFL's quarterly ownership meetings.

“As the first sitting president to speak out against the Washington team name, President Obama's comments are truly historic,” Halbritter said Saturday, via PFT. “The use of such an offensive term has negative consequences for the Native American community when it comes to issues of self-identity and imagery. We will continue to push our cause because this is about doing right by our children, who are especially impressionable. ...

“The NFL and [team owner Dan] Snyder should borrow a page from the President and use the changing of the football team's name as a teachable moment,” Halbritter said.

In related news, Snyder made it clear in May that "Redskins" is here to stay.

"We'll never change [it]," he said. "It's that simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."

Which could mean there's nothing Obama or NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell can do about it.

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