U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has spoken up about the manufactured controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins. Rubio said that he doesn’t think the team should be “forced” by anyone to change the name.
In a discussion about the various controversies facing the NFL, the senator was asked about the Redskins on ESPN Radio’s “Capital Games” show with hosts Andy Katz and Rick Klein.
Rubio said he felt that the controversies–like head injuries, domestic violence, drug abuse, and the Redskins name–weren’t necessarily new but what was new is how closely the media now follows these things.
“I don’t think any of these things are new,” Rubio began. “The difference is the coverage. You know most of these team 25 years ago were covered by a handful of beat writers who would file one story a day and you’d hear about it on the local news and if you wanted to know what happened in the NFL over the weekend you’d have to watch the Sunday night highlights and hope Howard Cosell picked your team. Now this stuff is being covered in real time.”
When asked about the Redskins name controversy, Rubio said it was up to the team and its owner. But before he got to that, the senator was asked why neither he nor any other Republican signed the Senate letter demanding that the team abandon the name Redskins.
“Our job is to face these major issues before the country not to have an opinion on every topic that comes up,” Rubio insisted. “I mean, I’m not a game show contestant, I’m a U.S. Senator and my job is to have opinions on the important issues of the day. As far as what an NFL team in another city is named, my opinion on that isn’t any more important than any other NFL fan.”
Rubio also said that he felt that government should have a very limited role in professional sports.
The senator from Florida then went on to note that the team’s name was not anyone’s business but the team’s.
“Now look, I think the decision is up to the owner to make,” Rubio told the hosts. “I think he should take into account that there are people that are offended by it. I know there are others who feel strongly about what the name means and don’t see offense to it. He’s in the PR business; he has to sell tickets. And ultimately he’s going to face accountability from a business perspective for whatever choice he makes.”
On the other hand, the senator did say that the team should take stock of what the fans want but as far as changing the name goes, “in no way” should Redskins owner Dan Snyder “be forced to do it,” Rubio said.
The senator also said he really didn’t know enough about the history of the term “redskins” to understand if it was truly a racial epithet.
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