Report: Goodell, Redskins officials met with Senator about name change

Are the Redskins any closer to changing their name?. (USATSI)
Are the Redskins any closer to changing their name? (USATSI)

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Last May, Redskins owner Dan Snyder said unequivocally that he would never change the team name, but according to, in December, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and members of the Redskins organization -- including general manager Bruce Allen -- met secretly with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Native American leaders who support changing the name.

It's the first time Redskins officials have met opponents of the team name since the 1970s, said Native American activist Suzan Shown Harjo.

More details via

Cantwell, then the chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, organized the December meeting, which was held off Capitol Hill in part to avoid publicity and facilitate an open dialogue between the participants. Goodell and Redskins general manager Bruce Allen were present, according to the sources, as was former Virginia senator and governor George Allen, who has been paid by the team for consulting advice around the name and is the general manager’s brother. The meeting also included leaders from several top Native American groups, including National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY), and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

The report called the meeting a "listening session for a league and a team that have insisted that they are willing to have an open dialogue with those opposed to the name," but "league and team approached the meeting in a defensive stance that left the opponents who were present with the sense that the NFL and the Redskins hadn’t taken their concerns to heart."

In September, Goodell said, "If one person's offended, we have to listen. And ultimately, it is [team owner] Dan [Snyder]'s decision. But it is something that I want all of us to go out and make sure we're listening to our fans, listening to people who have a different view, and making sure that we continue to do what's right to make sure that team represents the strong tradition that it has for so many years."

And in October, 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."

The Redskins, in a statement to, said: "From time to time the Redskins have been invited to various meetings with elected officials in which the officials ask us to listen to their points of view. Most officials -- not all -- support our name, but regardless of someone’s support or opposition, we are always pleased to let people know how strongly we believe the team’s name honors the heritage and tradition of Native Americans.” 

Goodell said last fall that Snyder would have final say in whether the team changes its name, but the last time we heard from the Redskins owner on the matter he was clear on the matter. 

"We'll never change the [team] name," Snyder said. "It's that simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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