The NFL can’t seem to catch a break lately. A decades-long debate over the Washington Redskins’ controversial team name has flared again, all while the league continues to battle intense criticism for multiple players facing domestic abuse charges.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now considering punishing broadcasters for using the word “redskins” when mentioning the football team. Politicians, civil rights leaders, and the general American public have pushed the NFL to change team name. They express concern that the term is a racial slur against Native Americans.
A FCC ban would prohibit broadcasters from speaking the term in television and radio broadcasts.
Legal activist John Banzhaf III recently sent a letter requesting the change by the FCC, which regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable, according to a report published by Reuters. Banzhaf asked regulators to strip a Washington, D.C., radio station of its broadcasting license for using the “derogatory” word.
But Redskins owner Daniel Snyder continues to remain firm in not altering the name of his team.
A group of nine Democratic House lawmakers and one Republican last May renewed the debate about the name when they sent a letter to Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Since the original notice, several other legislators have crafted similar petitions to the two executives. President Barack Obama, as well as half of the U.S. Senate and sports leaders, have demanded a change.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid previously took to the Senate floor to note the alteration 17 years ago of the Washington Bullets to what is now the Wizards, a motion made to disassociate the franchise from guns and violence.
Oneida Indian Nation, a federally recognized tribe, has been campaigning vigorously against the term.
During the summer, the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled the name and referred to it as “disparaging to Native Americans.” The team appealed the decision in federal court. But if a judge strikes the motion, the term won’t be trademarked under federal law that bans the protection of offensive language.
The Washington team plays at FedExField, located in Maryland, not far from the country’s capital.
Goodell and the NFL have faced withering criticism lately because multiple players are facing domestic abuse charges. And, just this week, Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah, a devout Muslim, received a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 15-yard penalty for celebrating with a prayer after his touchdown against the New England Patriots in Monday night’s game.
On Tuesday, the FCC settled a separate issue with the NFL by unanimously voting to abandon the 1975 blackout rule, which blocked local broadcasts of games where the home team failed to sell all non-premium tickets at least 72 hours before kickoff.