NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is standing with franchise owner Daniel Snyder and defending the controversial name of the Washington Redskins.
After receiving a letter from 10 members of Congress on May 13 urging him to remove the "racial, derogatory slur" from the name of one of his league's marquee franchises, Goodell responded in a letter dated June 5 that was posted online by Indian Country Today Media Network on Tuesday. Goodell defended the moniker by citing the team's rationale for choosing it in 1933 as well as it's current meaning among fans.
"The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context," Goodell wrote. "For the team's millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America's most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."
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U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) was among those who originally sent the letter to Goodell and is the co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. She was not pleased with Goodell's reply, sharing her frustrations on Twitter as well blasting his "twisted logic" in a statement obtained by USA Today.
"Would Roger Goodell and Dan Snyder actually travel to a Native American community and greet a group of tribal leaders by saying, 'Hey, what's up, redskin?'" asked McCollum, according to USA Today. "I think not. … Indian children, families and elders are Americans, and just like all racial, ethnic or religious groups, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not as a demeaning caricature or mascot. That shouldn't be too much to ask of the NFL."
In his response to the 10 members of Congress who wrote him, Goodell conceded that not everyone would hold his view on the matter.
"As you correctly recognize, the issues raised with respect to the Washington Redskins name are complex, and we respect that reasonable people may view it differently," Goodell wrote, via CBS Sports. "The National Football League takes seriously its responsibility to exemplify the values of diversity and inclusion that make our country great."
One reporter decided not to wait for Snyder to voluntarily change his franchise's controversial name or for the NFL to take action. Tim Graham of the Buffalo News published a column on Monday in which he revealed his intention never to use the word "redskins" again. Graham covered the AFC East for ESPN for three years before returning to the Buffalo News in 2011.
"I say 'intend' instead of 'vow' because I very well could slip up and accidentally say it again in casual conversation or during an interview. For any sports fan, the word simply falls from the lips without thought," wrote Graham. "And that's the problem with uttering a racial slur so cavalierly over the years: We don't think about the R-word's meaning anymore."
Forced to spend some time thinking about that meaning, Goodell apparently still believes the word can be used cavalierly and marketed to "the team's millions of fans and customers."