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Piling On: Another Call for Redskins to Change Name

Two Maryland lawmakers have introduced a resolution urging the owner of the Washington Redskins to change the NFL team's name to something not offensive to Native Americans.

Two Maryland lawmakers have introduced a resolution urging the owner of the Washington Redskins to change the NFL team's name to something not offensive to Native Americans. File|Patch
Two Maryland lawmakers have introduced a resolution urging the owner of the Washington Redskins to change the NFL team's name to something not offensive to Native Americans. File|Patch

Everyone from President Obama to sports columnists, the D.C. Council and the Montgomery County Executive has urged the Washington Redskins to change their name, so far without any success.

Now, two delegates to the Maryland General Assembly have proposed a resolution that urges the owner of the “professional football franchise to change the name of the football team” to something that “is not offensive to Native Americans or any other group,” reports The Washington Post.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, a Montgomery County resident of Potomac, has vowed that the team name will never change. But he has been under intense pressure to reverse his position, with even President Obama saying that he’d consider a name change if he owned the team.

The Redskins play at FedEx Field in Landover, Prince George’s County, so Maryland lawmakers need to take a formal stand against the name, said Del. C.T. Wilson (D), a sponsor of the resolution who represents Charles County, home to Piscataway tribes.

“It’s the least that we can do,” Wilson said during a hearing Monday. “And after all that our Native Americans have been through, after all that this country has put them through, it is the very least that we can do.”

Rico Newman, a former spokesman for the Choptico Band of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, told lawmakers that leaving the name as it is harms the next generation of Native American children.

“Names hurt,” Newman said, “and this is a name that children use throughout this state and throughout this country to denigrate children they know are Native American. . . . Everybody in this room has some pejorative or epithet that can be called against you because of your nationality, your race, your religion. It’s hurtful.”

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano testified against the bill, saying many people consider “Redskins” to be a “generic” term that is no more offensive than the logos of the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. He said the issue has been “predominantly whipped up” by the media.

The Oneida Indian Nation, a group that believes the Redskins name is offensive and would like it changed, met with team owner Dan Snyder in October to air its concerns, according to NFL.com.

Snyder wrote a letter to the team's fan base early in October stating that the Redskins' team name "was, and continues to be, a badge of honor. ... I've listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans, too."

The team name has also been discussed by Maryland Democrats running for governor, the Post says. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in February that he is “extremely sympathetic” to calls for a new name but can see both sides of the argument. He suggested the name “Bravehearts” as an alternative.

That prompted Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown — who lives in Prince George’s County — to say that “Redskins” is “an inappropriate name for any team, and I hope ownership will consider changing it.” Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery Co.) said the name is “offensive and culturally insensitive” and should be put “on the shelf with other slanderous words whose time has passed.” 

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