(CBS Seattle) — Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has joined a bipartisan effort to have the Washington Redskins change their name.
Cantwell, along with Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying the mascot is “an insult to Native Americans” and the the league has to change its stance on the Washington Redskins’ name. The letter also says, “The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur.”
The lawmakers’ message was received poorly by the Redskins’ front office. Spokesman Tony Wyllie responded in a written statement to Cantwell and Cole:
“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.”
This is not the first time the Redskins’ controversial name (and mascot) has been a hot topic among lawmakers. Just last year, a letter was written by ten members of Congress to team owner Dan Snyder asking him to consider changing the name of the mascot. Snyder has gone on record stating the name will never change as long as he is owner.
There have been mixed feelings about the name throughout the years. While some consider the namesake and logo to be racist, there is a significant amount of support behind the team’s name. In 2013, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that only 11 percent of people in America believe the name should be changed.
Although 79 percent were in favor keeping the name, there was a ten percentage point drop from the previous national poll on the subject, conducted in 1992 by The Washington Post and ABC News — just before the team won its most recent Super Bowl.
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