Two members of Congress plan to send a strongly worded letter to the commissioner of the National Football League on Monday urging him to support changing the name of the Washington Redskins because it offends Native Americans and others, with one lawmaker saying she might reconsider the league’s tax-exempt status if it does not comply.
Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington State and chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, said in an interview on Sunday that lawmakers would “definitely” examine the N.F.L.’s tax-exempt status and other ways to pressure the league.
“You’re getting a tax break for educational purposes, but you’re still embracing a name that people see as a slur and encouraging it,” Ms. Cantwell said.
In a copy of the letter released on Sunday, Ms. Cantwell and Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and a member of the Native American Caucus, chided the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell, for his recent remark that the name of the team, based near Washington, D.C., “honored” Native Americans.
“The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” they said.
But a spokesman for the Redskins took issue. “With all the important issues Congress has to deal with, such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name?” the spokesman, Tony Wyllie, wrote in an email. “And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘red people’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.”