NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected a bid by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and nine other members of Congress to have the Washington Redskins change their name because it is offensive to some Native Americans.
McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, wrote letters to Goodell, Redskins owner Dan Snyder and FedEx CEO Frederick Smtih in May urging them to change the name.
Goodell's letter was sent in response to McCollum's missive, which asked him to "take a stand against the use of the word 'redskin' as the Washington franchise's name."
"It is shameful that Dan Snyder and the NFL continue to exploit for profit a racial slur that demeans millions of native Americans," McCollum wrote. "This entire issue could end tomorrow with a simple decision by Mr. Snyder to change his football team's names to any of a million different mascots that would offend no one."
In his response, Goodell wrote that the franchise's name was not an effort "to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group." He also cited opinion polls that suggest that many Americans, including Native Americans, are not offended by the name.
"For the team's millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America's most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect," Goodell wrote.
Snyder, the Redskins owner, has vowed to never change the name.
"Unfortunately, NFL Commissioner Goodell's letter is another attempt to justify a racial slur on behalf of Dan Snyder and other NFL owners who appear to be only concerned with ever larger profits, even if it means exploiting a racist stereotype of Native Americans," McCollum said.
The Redskins travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Thursday, Nov. 7.