Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has long been an advocate for changing the Redskins’ name, going so far as to decry the “racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country” in comments made from the floor of the Senate in May. On Tuesday, in a video clip released by CNN, Reid reiterated his opposition, and he added that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had tried to “bribe” some Native Americans from the state he represents.
In an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju (parts of which can be seen here), Reid had this to say:
“Here’s a recommendation I’ll give to CNN: Don’t use the word Washington ‘bleep.’ The name of the Washington football team is disparaging to a large number of my constituents, and he demeans them every day.
“Snyder’s tried to bribe some of my folks, buy them little cars.”
Reid is likely referring to efforts made by the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, which Snyder created in March 2014 to, as he put it at the time, “address the challenges that plague the Native American community.” Other saw it as a thinly veiled public relations strategy to curry favor with members of that community and quell the increasing controversy over his team’s name.
In October 2014, the Indian National Finals Rodeo, held in Las Vegas, came under fire from some Native American groups for accepting the WROAF as a major sponsor. More recently, a South Dakota tribe’s leadership voted to reject a $25,000 contribution from Snyder’s organization.
From an August report by The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox:
The Navajo, Zuni and Cree have all had internal clashes because of members’ dealings with the Redskins, with some dismissing the name as innocuous and others calling it offensive.
This spring, the head of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah was stripped of her position by fellow council members after she accepted perks from the foundation (including a football signed by Robert Griffin III) and allowed the organization to pay for her and family members to attend a game in D.C.
The foundation, which was created last year, has kept its activities largely private. But it has courted dozens of tribes — many of them in rural areas in need of help — offering playgrounds, vans, shoes and thousands of coats, along with other support.
Oddly, Reid’s comments to CNN came as an initial response to a question about whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should resign in the wake of the DeflateGate ruling, although that could have been a result of video editing. For what it’s worth, here is how Reid addressed that saga:
“To make this big deal about how much air is in a damn football. I’ve played a little football, I don’t think it makes any difference.
“And if it did make a difference, what’s wrong with Goodell and the National Football League — check the footballs before they go on the field.”