Two British members of parliament wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell petitioning him not to send the Washington Redskins to London to play a game during the 2016 season.
“We were shocked to learn the derivation of the term ‘R*dskin,’ pertaining as it does to the historic abuse of native Americans,” reads the letter from Labour Party members of parliament Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin. “The exportation of this racial slur to the UK this autumn, when the Washington team is due to play, directly contravenes the values that many in Britain have worked so hard to instill.”
The Washington Redskins take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Wembley Stadium in the last game of 2016’s NFL International Series. The game marks Washington’s second foray into the British market. The team played a preseason game at Wembley Stadium in 1992.
The members of parliament ask the commissioner to, at minimum, not send the Redskins to London. They also ask for the league to change the team’s name. They claim that anti-racism policies that govern the British Broadcasting Corporation and Wembley Stadium may make it difficult for the NFL to achieve its goal of setting up a franchise in London because of the name of one of its 32 teams.
The moniker itself dates to the 1930s, when the NFL often parasitically appropriated nicknames from teams in the more popular Major League Baseball. The New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Cincinnati Reds once competed in the National Football League atop franchises with the same names playing in Major League Baseball. Originally the Boston Braves, the Redskins changed names when they moved from the home of Boston’s National League team to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, whose nickname inspired the nickname that now attracts so much controversy.
ESPN obtained the letter, which was sent earlier this month.
In the article on the network’s website, Mike Wise refers euphemistically refers to “Dan Snyder’s team” and “Washington’s name” but never to the “Redskins,” the subject of the controversy.