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Congress Urges the NFL to Change the Name of the Washington Redskins

Over the weekend, several Washington lawmakers said that they may use tax measures to pressure the NFL to change the name of the Washington Redskins football team. In a letter to NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell, Senator Maria Cantwell, chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, and Representative Tom Cole wrote that, “The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur.” The lawmakers said that they are prepared to examine the league’s tax status—it currently operates as a tax-exempt non-profit—as a way to pressure them to change the team’s controversial name.

The letter said, “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.” In a response to the Congressional pressure, a Redskins team spokesman said in an email to The New York Times, “With all the important issues Congress has to deal with, such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘red people’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic” …

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