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Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban puts Redskins name debate back in the spotlight

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday applauded NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for his decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, and said the NBA had “set the standard for how professional sports associations should act in the face of racism.” He then called upon NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to take notice.

“How long will the NFL continue to do nothing — zero — as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?” asked Reid, who last month predicted the Redskins will change their name within three years.

Reid mentioned D.C.’s most recent sports name change, confirming that at least one person thinks ‘Wizards’ is a good moniker.

Via The Post’s Ed O’Keefe:

“We all followed the Washington Wizards the last couple of weeks,” Reid said. “They are now in the second round of the playoffs. We were all happy about that. They have struggled for a long time. We support, the American people support, the Wizards. People in the D.C. metropolitan area. The Wizards have a good name. Don’t you think Daniel Snyder can come up with a name? It should be easy. He could invite the fans to choose a name. He could ask high school kids to come up with a name.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe echoed Reid’s approval of the NBA’s decision on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program, but said he would not compare the Sterling situation to the Redskins nickname debate. (“Governors should not be telling private sector businesses what to do with their businesses,” McAuliffe said.)

But Reid and his fellow politicians were far from the only ones who used Silver’s ban of Sterling as a pivot for discussing the Washington football team’s name.

On Tuesday’s “Around the Horn” on ESPN, Kevin Blackistone said the District’s football brass should learn from the NBA:

“One thing I will say about this whole deal is that folks here in Washington, D.C., who run this football team here, need to pay attention to this. Because you talk about whether they’re going to get Sterling to sell this team – of course they will because of the public pressures that have been brought upon by this.  No one’s going to want to be on the other side of this issue. And more importantly, the marketplace has already responded, because major people who support this league have decided to back away.”

While he told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier that it’s a stretch to connect the two situations apples-to-apples, USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell wrote a column Wednesday suggesting that it’s better late than never for the NFL and the Redskins to make a change. An excerpt:

“Maybe this inglorious episode will resonate in the NFL, which also has an owner in its midst with the initials D.S., engaging in another form of race-hating.
It is 2014, yet the team name for the NFL franchise representing our nation’s capitol — ‘Redskins’ — is a racial slur.”

Today, Bell joined ESPN business analysts Darren Rovell and Andrew Brandt and host Bob Ley on “Outside the Lines” to discuss the issue further. Brandt suggested that it will take pressure from sponsors threatening to pull out of their partnerships and Goodell saying that the name is hurting the NFL brand for Snyder to even consider a change.

“There is nothing at all — no pressure from the financial side,” said Rovell, who doesn’t foresee a change in the next two years. “I don’t see the pressure mounting enough.”

“I guess it depends if there are some audio tapes that come out if there’s an acceleration of any timetable,” Bell said.