SEATTLE – A Congressional source revealed Tuesday Washington Senator Maria Cantwell held secret talks with the NFL Commissioner and representatives from the Washington Redskins organization. The meeting was concerning the use of the nickname by the NFL franchise.
Cantwell was chair of the Senate Indian Affairs committee at the time of the meeting, although the exact date and location of the conversation is unclear. The blog, “Think Progress” was first to report of the meeting. She has since stepped down as the Committee chair.
The use of the nickname by the NFL franchise has come under increased scrutiny in the last year, but has been a source of controversy for dozens more. Port Townsend High School is phasing out the nickname after nearly 90 years of use. Local Native American leaders have called the term racist, and racially charged.
The NFL’s teams owner, Daniel Snyder, has resisted calls to change the name, as has NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL’s top man distanced himself from the controversy during Super Bowl week, and hinted that public opinion was on the side of the NFL franchise.
Cantwell then wrote a letter, dated February 10, to Goodell reiterating her position that the NFL should take a “formal position in support of a name change.”
She also told MSNBC, “We thought the NFL was listening and at least was going to listen about this issue. But that press conference prior to the Super Bowl made it clear that they were going along with this perpetrated charade about this name.”
Cantwell spokesman Jared Leopold would not comment on the story, other than to say the Senator has had “continuous conversation with the league” and that the Seahawks have been a model organization in terms of honoring Northwest tribes through the use of their logo.