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Reid: NFL should take note of NBA stance on race; force Redskins name change

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(CNN) — The National Football League should take note of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s stance on race and force the Washington Redskins to change their name, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday.

The Nevada Democrat applauded Silver’s decisive action on Tuesday in meting out a lifetime ban to Donald Sterling after the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was recorded making racist comments. Silver also urged other league owners to support his bid to force Sterling to sell the franchise.

Reid of Nevada saw an opening on the issue to press the case against the Redskins and their owner Daniel Snyder.

In remarks on the floor, Reid said his state includes a number of Indian tribes, and he called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to force Snyder to “remove this degrading term from the league.”

“Since Snyder fails to show any leadership, the National Football League should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack,” he said. “For far too long, the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated.”

“Follow the NBA’s example and rid the league of bigotry and racism. Your fans will support it.”

The D.C. football team’s name has long been the source of controversy, angering many for its connection to a time of intense discrimination against Native Americans.

Snyder opposes a name change, vowing to keep it against both public and congressional pushback.

Snyder contends the name, which the team’s had for 80 years, is part of a tradition important to fans.

Reid said Snyder’s hiding behind the Redskins’ supposed legacy, but “a tradition of racism is all the name leaves in its wake.”

In response to ongoing backlash over the team’s name, Snyder announced last month a nonprofit, the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, to benefit Native Americans.

Goodell has praised Snyder’s efforts and pointed to fan support in keeping the name, but has also soften his tone saying in October that the NFL should “make sure we’re listening to our fans” on the matter.

Even President Barack Obama said if he owned the team and he knew the name was “offending a sizable group of people,” then he would “think about changing it.”

Still, the pushback isn’t easing up on Capitol Hill.

A “Change the Mascot” campaign launched last year, airing radio ads in the D.C.-area.

Reid, the top Senate Democrat, and a number of lawmakers have continued pushing for the team to change its name.

Two members of Congress, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington state and chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, wrote a letter in February to Goodell calling the Redskins’ name “an insult to Native Americans.”

The Oneida Indian Nation issued a statement Tuesday praising Silver’s move and said the NFL should follow suit.

“In banning Clippers owner Donald Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other NBA team owners have taken a courageous stand against racism in professional sports, acknowledging that professional leagues cannot be a platform to promote bigotry,” said Ray Halbritter, a representative for Oneida Indian Nation.

“In taking such appropriate disciplinary action, the NBA has shown leagues like the NFL that they have a moral responsibility to take disciplinary action against people like Dan Snyder, who also continues to proudly promote bigotry with the use of a dictionary-defined racial slur as his team’s name.”


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  • John

    Oklahoma translates to “red people” in Choctaw.. Where’s the pressure to change this states name? If the redskins changed their name the state of Oklahoma would have to change theirs. Don’t we have bigger problems than this that need addressing? Idiotic.

  • Boyee

    Why not become the Washington Warriors with a U.S. helmeted U.S. military man for their logo? A warrior is not just tied to Native Americans.

  • Richard T. Ramfield

    So the people who have relatives killed in Hurricanes,or by Bulls, or by Cowboys or In Jets or by electricity, or by Bears,Wolves, Cougars or RUNNING GUNNING REBELS, should have to change their Mascots also. HARRY REID needs to do his Job and not worry about something that does not effect one single solitary american. Get on Jobs and the Deficit or RETIRE.What an idiot.

  • Hugh

    Why is the press even reporting on what Reid thinks about the name of a football team. Who gives a rats ass what he thinks.

  • All ova ya chin

    this guy is a joke!!! America is in the position we are in and this guy is worried about the Washington Redskins? guys like this need to go!!!

  • athynz

    “Dirty” Harry Reid is back at it again – deflecting the issue of Cliven Bundy and the whole issue by reigniting this sorry old debate. What he – and others who support the name change do not get is that the name was chosen to honor the first coach of the team who was a Native American. But okay go ahead and change the name – but make sure every other team with a potentially racist name needs to change theirs as well.

  • Linda

    If Harry Reid and the other Congressmen & women would actually research the history of “redskins” they would find that the name wasn’t given by Caucasians. It was used by the Native Americans themselves. It was not a derogatory name. It was also not used because of scalping either. So Harry Reid needs to move on. And I totally agree there are much more important things to deal with then the name of the Washington Redskins.

  • Mark H

    Dbag Reid its the federal government that forced and continues to force native Americans to live on wasteland reservations and does nothing to improve there dire situation. Want to make a statement fix this.

  • Gary TeBeest

    I cant believe that they could force the sale of the Redskins. Has anyone heard that the Indian community has a problem with the name. We need the government to butt out, they have more pressing things to worry about. First we took the land from the Indians. There is not much left in this country that reminds us of the Indians. I think having something named after them would be an honor, about the only reminder that we would have of them. As for Reid, he needs to crawl back into his hole and someone needs to shovel it closed!

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