On Thursday, the head of the NFL Players Association said he believes the Redskins name is racially insensitive.
“I have conveyed my thoughts on this issue both to Roger and to the team,” DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, told the Washington Post. “They understand our position and I believe that those conversations are most effective when they can remain private. As I have stated publicly, though, I do not believe anyone should inflict pain, embarrass or insult, especially given the racial insensitivity of the term ‘Redskin.'”
He continued by saying he “grew up here and like all Washingtonians I became a fan of this team. The beauty of sports and of the Washington football franchise is that it will always have the ability to bring this community together, regardless of what decision is made about the team name.”
According to the Post, “NFLPA officials have met with representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation to discuss their objection to the Redskins’ name” and even though he did not “vow to take action on the issue, Smith’s statement marks a departure from others among the sport’s leadership joining the Redskins in staunchly defending the team’s name.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has defended the team’s name after initially saying that the NFL had to listen even if one person expressed concerns. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to “NEVER” change the team’s name, and the Redskins recently wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to say the team unifies a divided city and the name honors Native Americans. The team also cited a national poll that found an overwhelming percentage of Americans do not want the Redskins to change their name.