Lawmakers urge NFL to change Redskins name

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) are pressing the NFL to change the name of the Washington Redskins.

The two lawmakers plan to send a letter to the NFL Monday that argues the football team’s name is offensive to Native Americans and others.

Cole is a member of the Native American Caucus.

“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter reads.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has defended the team name, citing recent surveys suggesting many people support it. The team's owner, Daniel Snyder, has also defended it and has said he would not change the name. 

The Anti-Defamation League and NAACP, meanwhile, have criticized the team's name, which has been used for about 80 years.

No one from the NFL would comment on the request yet, but a Redskins spokesman shot back at the lawmakers.

“With all the important issues Congress has to deal with, such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to healthcare, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name?” Tony Wyllie told The New York Times in an email. “And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘red people’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.” 

In May, 10 members of Congress sent a similar letter to Goodell after unveiling legislation that would prevent companies from using the reference to Native Americans for commercial purposes. 

President Obama in October weighed in and said he would consider renaming the football team if he owned it.