Congress has a full plate on its domestic table this summer. The sequester still isn’t over and unemployment is sky-high, especially in the African-American community. However, 10 members of Congress have sent letters to members of the National Football League, including Roger Goodell, urging the Washington Redskins to change their names.
The outrage over the Redskins nickname is justified. Redskins may or may not have been a derogatory term for the scalping of Native Americans, depending on your interpretation, but it's still an archaic one that hasn't been in use for a century. There's no statute of limitations for derogatory nicknames, but it's still not as cut and dry as you'd think. For example, four out of five Native Americans in recent polls actually have no qualms with the nickname. The name's history is mired in the muck of 19th and 20th century racism, but in the past half-century most fans have become ignorant to the original meaning of the nickname. However, I have a problem with Congressmen suddenly jumping on the bandwagon and using this as their cause du jour to pander for support.
Nicknames such as the Redtails, which would pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airman, have been suggested to help smooth the proposed transition, but owner Dan Snyder is having none of that. The city's sports fans endured a similar change when Abe Pollin orchestrated the name change that converted the beloved Washington Bullets, into the inexplicably named Washington Wizards because of the name's association with the city's issues with gun violence (Ironically, the running joke is that the Wizards nickname honors leaders of the Klu Klux Klan).
The most glaring issue with the Washington Redskins isn't even the nickname. FedEx Field is in Landover, Maryland, which technically makes the Redskins one of three NFL teams not to play in the state their city is associated with. At some point, the debate over the nickname will come to a head, but that's further down the road.