WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it’s time for the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name, linking the issue to racist comments by a professional basketball team owner.
In a Senate speech Wednesday, the Nevada Democrat said Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is hiding behind tradition in retaining his team’s name, which critics call racially offensive.
Reid called on Snyder “to do what is morally right” by changing the name. Reid has criticized the name before, telling The Washington Post in March that he thinks it will be changed within three years.
Reid said his state has 22 tribes and that the only tradition behind the Redskins’ name was one of racism.
Reid congratulated the NBA for banning Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling for life. Sterling was caught in an audio recording making racist comments about blacks.
Reid said it’s time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to follow the NBA’s lead and rid his league of bigotry and racism.
Other prominent politicians have criticized or questioned the Redskins’ name. President Barack Obama told The Associated Press in October: “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team — even if they’ve had a storied history — was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
Several members of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats, have urged Snyder to change the team’s name.