Two members of Congress plan on pushing Roger Goodell to change the Redskins name by sending him a "strongly-worded letter" that could include a threat of trying to revoke the NFL's tax-exempt status.
The Washington Post reports Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) are looking for ways to pressure the league in the face of the Redskins' continued usage of their name. Cantwell said she would "definitely" consider revoking the tax-exempt status.
"You're getting a tax break for educational purposes, but you're still embracing a name that people see as a slur and encouraging it," Cantwell said.
The Post obtained a copy of the letter Cantwell and Cole drafted to Goodell (with a Feb. 10 date on it), with them objecting Goodell's "pre-Super Bowl press conference" where he "defended the Washington team name as an 'honor' to Native Americans."
"It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans," the letter reads.
Cantwell and Cole go on to cite the opinions of the National Congress of Native Americans and then to point out that the Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant the Washington football team's trademark because they "found the term disparaged Indian people."
"The National Football League is on the wrong side of history," the letter reads. "It is not appropriate for this multibillion dollar 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization to perpetuate and profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people."
It's a strong argument to take against the NFL. Losing tax-exempt status would be a big, big thing for the league.
The Redskins responded (kind of -- it wasn't a direct response, but the timing indicates it was an answer of sorts) on Monday by announcing the "release of Community Voices," a project involving statements from people of Native American heritage who support the name.
"Over the past few months, we have received hundreds of letters, calls and emails from self-identified Native Americans in support of the name 'Washington Redskins,'" the team said in a statement announcing the Community Voices project. "Their comments make clear why our team name means so much to them and to so many in the Native American community.
"It is essential for Redskins Nation to know what the majority of Native Americans really think -- in their own words -- and why it is so important that we listen to their voices on this issue. We should not turn our back on these Native Americans. Their voices deserve to be heard. We want Redskins Nation and the sports world to know what many Native Americans really think and why our name is their source of pride."
It's a decent argument to make and about as good a PR push as you can make in this instance. Sticking with the Redskins name in the face of all the outcry is a tough position.
With two members of Congress apparently determined to get a change implemented, it's going to be an even tougher position for the league to take.