Leaders of the civil rights group, the Fritz Pollard Alliance, are choosing Martin Luther King Day as an appropriate date to renew protests that Washington Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, to change the name of the team, because they consider it offensive to Native Americans. There was a meeting in August with Snyder, the team’s president Bruce Allen, and Gary L. Edwards, a Native American who is head of the Redskins Original Americans Foundation and retired deputy assistant of the secret service, became upset at the activists, as reported by the Washington Post.
The group broached the subject of the name change to NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, who said it was an issue only the team could address. The group circulated a letter with comments from celebrities, politicians and former players urging that the name be changed, including John Wooten, former Redskin’s lineman in the 1960s, who wrote, “As the NFL continues to move in a 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.”
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Snyder, who grew up in a Maryland-based Jewish family, told USA Today, “The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.”
Washington fans Josh Silver and Ian Washburn, funded by the Oneida Indian nation, are producing thousands of robo-calls urging that the name of the team, which is never directly mentioned on the recorded call, be changed. Silver said both he and his rabbi wrote letters to Snyder, “appealing to his better angels, ” but received no reply. The call is meant to appeal to fans who “love the team, but hate the name.”