WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Pressure is growing to change the name of the Washington Redskins. A Native American tribe in Washington, D.C. is fighting against the name it calls racist, but devoted fans want to keep their 76 years of tradition.
Kai Jackson has the developing controversy.
A Native American leader in Baltimore believes this effort is a good start but he doubts the team’s name will change anytime soon.
The Washington Redskins have a rich and storied history. It’s an 81-year-old franchise with three Super Bowl championships.
“The term is a dictionary defined offensive racial epithet,” said one person who wants the team to change its name.
But the team and star players like Robert Griffin III may again be overshadowed by growing calls to change the team’s name. Many consider the name and mascot on the helmet offensive to Native Americans.
Members of the Oneida Indian nation met in Washington Tuesday to talk about it.
Owner Dan Snyder has been quoted as saying he’d never change the team’s name.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell grew up as a fan of the team and never considered the name offensive.
“Whenever you have a situation like this, you have to listen and recognize that some other people may have different perspectives,” he said.
Even President Barack Obama has weighed in.
“Even if it had a storied history that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” he said.
“Indians are not mascots,” said Dr. Dennis Seymour, Baltimore American Indian Center.
The cost for the Washington Redskins to change their name could be significant. Seymour believes that might be one reason it won’t happen anytime soon.
“When you talk about the organization and the funds involved with a large organization like that, I’m not sure that we’re gonna see it,” he said.
Members of the Oneida Indian nation are scheduled to meet with the NFL on Nov. 22, but because of the heightened tension it’s a possibility that date could move up.
It’s unclear at this time if team owner Dan Snyder will attend that meeting.
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