Reid to Redskins’ Snyder: 'Do what is morally right' and change team nickname

McClatchy Washington BureauApril 30, 2014 

Change the Washington Redskins nickname, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Wednesday.

In a speech to Senate colleagues, he urged team owner Daniel Snyder “to do what is morally right and remove this degrading term from the league by changing his team’s name.”

Snyder has said he will not change the name, citing a long tradition. He and his staff recently visited Native American reservations and set up a foundation to help tribes.

Reid spoke a day after, as he put it, “all of America watched as Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA acted justly in punishing Donald Sterling for his hateful, racist behavior. Commissioner Silver banned Mr. Sterling from the NBA for life and imposed a stiff monetary penalty on him as well. I, along with all America, applaud the NBA’s work in swiftly moving to stamp out bigotry from its ranks.”

That action should set a standard, Reid argued.

“I wonder, has the leadership of the National Football League taken notice of the NBA’s decisive action? How long will the NFL continue to do nothing as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?” the Nevada Democrat asked.

“It is untoward of Daniel Snyder to try and hide behind ‘tradition’ in refusing to change the name of the team. Tradition? What tradition? A tradition of racism is all that name leaves in its wake. Mr. Snyder surely knows that in sports the only tradition that matters is winning. I urge Daniel Snyder to do what is morally right and remove this degrading term from the league by changing his team’s name.

“It’s been done before – right here in Washington, D.C. Seventeen years ago the owner of the Washington Bullets, the late Abe Pollin, saw all of the gun violence and murders taking place in the DC area and voluntarily decided that he didn’t want any association with bullets. Abe Pollin changed the organization’s name from the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards. It’s not that difficult. Snyder could invite the fans to choose, or even have a few high school students pick a new name. Choosing a new name will be easy. But since Dan Snyder fails to show any leadership, the NFL should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack. 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. I say to Commissioner Roger Goodell, it is time to act. Remove this hateful term from your league’s vocabulary. Follow the NBA’s example and rid the league of bigotry and racism. Your fans will support it.”

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