Redskins name-change resolution will get D.C. Council vote Tuesday

October 31, 2013

Oneida representative Ray Halbritter is leading the latest effort to change the storied Redskins name. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Six months after it was first proposed, legislation calling on the Washington Redskins to jettison their controversial name will get a D.C. Council vote next week.

The latest version of the “Sense of the Council to Rename the Washington National Football League Team Resolution of 2013″ is longer but less strident than the original introduced by David Grosso (I-At Large) and eight colleagues in May.

Whereas the original called the team name “derogatory … insulting and debasing,” and called changing it a matter “decency,” the new resolution — drafted with the help of Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) — takes a gentler approach, saying rather that the name is considered by “many Americans … to be racist and derogatory, and … increasingly considered to be insensitive in our multi-cultural society.”

The new resolution also makes note of the latest developments in the name-change saga, including President Obama’s comments on the matter, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas’s recent on-air commentary, and an entreaty this month from the Anti-Defamation League.

It also addressed why the council is getting involved — for the third time, in fact: “The Council of the District of Columbia is in an important position to acknowledge the controversy over our local NFL team’s name, and to urge the football team’s owners to end the controversy and rectify what many believe to be an insult by changing the name of the Washington NFL team.”

“Changing the name of a National Football League franchise, while not a simple task, is the right and prudent thing to do in this case,” the resolution concludes. “The owner of the Washington NFL team is hereby urged to change the name of the football team to a name that is not offensive to Native Americans or any other ethnic group.”

Unlike the original, which suggested an alternative of “Redtails” to honor the Tuskeegee Airmen, the new resolution makes no suggestions for a replacement.

Team owner Daniel M. Snyder has said he is not considering changing the name, calling it a “badge of honor,” and NFL officials told leaders of the Oneida Indian Nation Wednesday that they continued to stand by the name.

The resolution is expected to appear on the agenda for Tuesday’s council legislative meeting. Because it has been co-introduced by a majority of the council’s 13 members, it is expected to pass easily.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · October 31, 2013