Groups Seek NFLPA Public Stand on Redskins Name

Says Candidates to Run Players Union Should Oppose Use

The Change the Mascot campaign, which has pushed Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the National Football League team and urged broadcast and cable outlets not to use the name on air, has called on the candidates for executive director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to take a public stand against the name.

Campaign members include the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation Representative

The letter, which was sent to all the candidates, points out that current executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is running for reelection, has expressed his opposition to the name. The election is scheduled for March 15.

“Athletes are in a unique position to take up the cause of social justice - especially on an issue like this that is so intertwined with professional sports. In the spirit of solidarity that the NFLPA so often promotes, we hope you will stand with us in this critical campaign,” the group said.

"Just as the NFL would never dare allow any other racial slur to brand one of its teams, it should not allow this name to continue to be promoted for the team that represents the nation’s capital," the group wrote. "That is a common sense view understood by current professional football players including Richard Sherman and Champ Bailey; by former stars such as Terry Bradshaw, Calvin Hill and Mark Schlereth; and by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the organization that works with the league to promote civil rights. They have all spoken out against the continued use of the team’s current name, as have major Native American organizations, public health organizations, religious leaders, sports media icons, governors, Members of Congress from both parties and the President of the United States."

Last year, the FCC's Media Bureau rejected a petition to deny the renewal of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's Washington radio station, WWXX-FM, over its use of the term "Redskins" on-air to refer to the team. Challenges to several TV station licenses were also lodged, but the FCC has signaled that the name did not constitute profanity.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said he personally thinks the name should be changed, but that is different from whether the name constitutes "profanity," "fighting words," or "hate speech," as has been suggested in the petitions.

Last June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that “Redskins” is disparaging to Native Americans, and has cancelled the federal protections for associated trademarks, pending any possible appeals.