Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opened his remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday with a shot at the NFL for its handling of the DeflateGate controversy and its unwillingness to consider changing the Redskins’ name.
“Yesterday, the National Football League punished one of its most recognizable players, [for] having tampered with game balls,” Reid said. “I find it stunning that the National Football League is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country. The Redskins name is a racist name. So I wish the commissioner would act as swiftly and decisively in changing the name of the D.C. team as he did about not enough air in a football.”
Reid tweeted the same message Tuesday.
I find it stunning that the NFL cares more about how much air is in a football than it cares about a racist franchise name.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) May 12, 2015
After commissioning an investigation that lasted more than three months into whether Tom Brady knew that the Patriots were circumventing league rules regarding the air pressure in game balls, the NFL suspended Brady without pay for the first four games of the upcoming season and fined the Patriots $1 million while stripping them of their first-round draft pick in 2016 and fourth-round selection in 2017. The fine is the largest ever leveled against an NFL team.
Reid was among the 50 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate who sent letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last May urging him and the league to endorse a change of the Redskins’ name. Reid has said that the name ‘Redskins’ is offensive to Native Americans living in his state and nationwide.
Last June, he declined an invitation from the Redskins to attend a home game, saying that he “will not stand idly by while a professional sports team promotes a racial slur as a team name and disparages the American people.”
Before the NFL draft in May, Goodell defended the Redskins name.
“It’s the name of a football team,” Goodell was quoted as saying during an invitation-only Q&A at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. “I grew up as a Washington Redskins fan. I always looked at that as something we were proud of. In that context, it’s not being used as a racial slur.”