Leaders of a prominent civil rights organization, with a stated mission to promote racial diversity and equality of opportunities in the NFL, is imposing maximum pressure on Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of his team.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance—a not-for-profit-group closely aligned with the NFL and includes several ex-NFL players—attempted to persuade Snyder to abolish the Redskins name and logo back in August. However, they were rebuked by the director of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, which was established by Snyder to address the problems facing Native Americans.
The Alliance voiced their concern to the NFL about the “Redskins” name on two previous occasions, even taking the subject up with Roger Goodell. The commissioner told the Alliance that it was up to Snyder.
Despite protests from President Obama, and other political, religious, and social leaders to eliminate the moniker, Snyder vowed to never change the name and so far he has stuck to his guns. Yet, the pressure continues to mount.
Monday Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman, John Wooten, a former Redskins lineman, wrote in a letter to the Washington Post that, “As the NFL continues to move in the direction of respect and dignity, one of its teams carrying this name cuts glaringly against the grain. It hurts the League and it hurts us all.”
In response to the letter, Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie expressed chagrin with the Alliance’s position on the matter. In a statement he said,
We’ve had many conversations with the FPA about the name issue and are disappointed in their decision. We believe that they ignored the outstanding support we have received from Native Americans across this country for the Washington Redskins and the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation during their decision making process.
The FPA started as a group focused on making NFL teams more inclusive of African Americans in their hiring practices for management and head coaching jobs. In 2013 the alliance began to expand their view of the league’s culture and took up the cause to ban Washington’s use of the “Redskins” name. The Post reported that one of their attorneys, N. Jeremi Duru, an American University law professor, was assigned to work on the ban.
“There seemed to be an argument on the [team] side that it wasn’t reasonable to be offended by the use of the word,” the attorney at one time observed. “My research found that it was quite reasonable to be offended by its use.”
Chairman Wooten believes that “all sides, including the Native American groups who don’t feel the name needs to be changed, they all need to be there, and they should all sit and discuss this. That hasn’t happened. I truly believe that has to happen.”
Wooten insist that all involved must “take a stand. That name has to be changed. We can’t just leave it up to [the team]. We think it’s disrespectful. We think it’s, by definition, demeaning.”