In the wake of the NBA’s lifetime ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after his racist rant, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to take “decisive action” to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
“I wonder today how the leadership of the National Football League, the NFL, that money-making machine — I wonder if they have taken notice of the NBA’s decisive action,” Reid said on the Senate floor, noting the NBA set the precedent for how to act in the face of racism. “I wonder if they have taken notice of the NBA’s decisive action. How long will the NFL continue to do nothing — zero — as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?”
Reid also blasted Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for using “tradition” as an argument for keeping the name. He noted former owner Abe Pollin changed the Washington Wizards’ name from the Bullets as he became increasingly uncomfortable with the violent overtones associated with the original name.
Reid said it should be easy for Snyder to figure out another name. However, since it seems clear Snyder won’t change his position, Reid called on the NFL to take action.
“Since Snyder fails to show any leadership, the National Football league should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack,” Reid said. “It would be a slam dunk. For far too long, the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated. So I say to Commissioner Roger Goodell — I believe Roger Goodell is a good man, but it’s time for this good man to act. Remove this hateful term from your league’s vocabulary and rid the league of racism and bigotry.”
This isn’t the first time Reid has advocated a name change for Washington’s NFL team. In an interview with The Washington Post in March, Reid predicted the team would change its name within three years in the face of mounting pressure. President Barack Obama has also said he would change the team’s name if he were its owner.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday the league’s decision to ban Sterling for life and move to force a sale of the team. He also fined Sterling $US2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA’s bylaws. The punishment came in the wake of Sterling’s racist remarks that caused a firestorm after TMZ posted audio of them last weekend.
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