NFL crackdown on racial slurs should start with team's name, Rep. McCollum says

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2014 - 12:46 AM
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Calling Washington's NFL team nickname a racist slur, several hundred protesters rallied at the Mall of America Field, Thursday, November 7, 2013 in Minneapolis.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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– The NFL appears likely to take steps this offseason to curb the use of racial slurs by players during games, but Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum doesn’t think the proposed crackdown goes far enough.

The head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance — a group that works with the National Football League on minority hiring practices — expects the league to place extra emphasis on enforcing rules that penalize players for using the N-word on the field.

The name of the Washington Redskins’ franchise should be flagged too, said McCollum, Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

“The NFL’s crackdown on the use of racial slurs is to be commended, but a good place to start would be by changing the name of the Washington football team,” McCollum said.

McCollum has been a leader of efforts on Capitol Hill to get NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owner Daniel Snyder to drop the name that many Americans Indians and others consider offensive. Goodell has resisted, and Snyder says he will never change the name.

In November, McCollum joined the American Indian Movement in a protest outside the Metrodome when the Redskins played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. She’s also written letters to Goodell, Snyder and team sponsor FedEx, describing the name as a slur among the ethnic group.

McCollum is not the only politician pressuring the league. President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have said the name should be changed. Among Republicans, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma — one of just two Americans Indian members in Congress — is leading the charge. Cole cowrote a letter to Goodell last month, warning him that Congress may revisit the NFL’s tax-exempt status.

“Unless Roger Goodell and owners act to change the Washington team name, the NFL will have a situation on their hands where they are attempting to penalize a player for using one racial slur, while the entire Washington franchise profits from another racial slur demeaning Native Americans,” McCollum said.

 

Obama, St. Paul mayor trade visits

A day after President Obama visited St. Paul for a major announcement, the city’s mayor traveled to Washington to help the president unveil a new initiative.

Obama stopped at St. Paul’s revitalized Union Depot on Wednesday to unveil his four-year $302 billion roads and transit funding plan. On Thursday, Mayor Chris Coleman was at the White House for the formal launch of Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper,” a plan to pave a pathway to success for more young black and Hispanic males.

The back-to-back visits constituted a “home-and-home series,” Coleman joked.

Corey Mitchell

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