Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen responded to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s call for the team to change its nickname, and made it clear that even pressure from Congress was not going to cause the team to flinch, according to a report from ESPN.
The ongoing battle between the Redskins organization and supporters of a movement for the team to change the name “Redskins” saw Senator Reid get involved this week with a letter urging the team to make the change now.
“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations,” an excerpt from the team letter read. “We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises.”
Allen fired back, removing any doubt that the team was considering the change at all. He eluded to the meaning of the name within the relationship between whites and Native Americans, citing a study by Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard, in which Goddard contends that the origin of the word redskin was “benign and reflects more positive aspects of relations between Indians and whites.”
The Washington GM also used references to polls (some as old as 10 years ago) in support of the name, including a 2014 poll by the Associated Press that showed 83 percent of Americans were in favor of keeping the name.
This is a divisive issue, and brings high emotions from supporters of both sides, with no resolution in sight for the near future.