Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today, at a panel forum sponsored by the Oneida Indian Nation, called on National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell to use his leadership role to reach out to the Oneida Indian Nation to try to find an amicable way to address the racially disparaging name of the Washington football team, Redskins. The time and place of the panel forum coincided with this week's NFL Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.
"The increasing controversy and activism surrounding the name of our hometown football team are issues in search of a leader," said Norton. "It would be tragic if Daniel Snyder waits to be ordered by the federal government to change the team name, as George Preston Marshall was ordered to integrate the team decades ago," said Norton. "I very much appreciate that Roger Goodell appears to be thinking through this issue carefully and to be shifting his position. However, the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the disparaging nature of the team's name is expected soon. For the good of the league and the team, I am asking Mr. Goodell to begin by reaching out to the Oneida Indian Nation, while they and the NFL are both in town."
In May, Norton and nine other members of Congress sent letters to Goodell, team owner Daniel Snyder, the 31 other NFL franchises, and Washington football team sponsor FedEx, urging a change in the team name. In March, Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS) introduced a bill, which Norton and the others who signed the letter cosponsored, to cancel existing trademark registrations containing the term "redskin," and deny registration for new trademarks using the term.