He's called them a "racist franchise" that "denigrates Native Americans." He's called the team's name "disparaging." He hopes they lose. He's even accused their owner, Daniel Snyder, of trying to bribe some of his Native American constituents.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is arguably Congress's biggest and most vocal opponent of the Washington Redskins name. And he says he's not going to stop his crusade against the team's name because of The Washington Post's new poll suggesting 9 in 10 Native Americans don't find the name offensive. Here's what he said to The Fix in a statement:
"A single poll does not change the facts: Indian tribal leaders, Native American organizations across the country, including the National Congress of American Indians, and their allies, have spoken out against the racist, offensive name of the Washington football team. A federal judge ordered the cancellation of the team’s trademark because the name is clearly disparaging to Native Americans. Instead of stubbornly clinging to this relic of the past, Dan Snyder and the NFL should do the right thing and change the name.”
The Indian tribal leaders Reid is referring to may include Oneida Nation Homelands, which is leading a "Change the Mascot" campaign, and reiterated Thursday it still thinks the name is a "racial slur — one that tells people outside of our community to view us as mascots."
"The results of this poll confirm a reality that is encouraging but hardly surprising: Native Americans are resilient and have not allowed the NFL’s decades-long denigration of us to define our own self-image," said Jackie Pata and Ray Halbritter, the directors of the Change the Mascot campaign, in a statement.
Since he's been in Washington for the past three decades, Reid has been vocal about the Washington team name. In 2015, his criticism picked up vigor following a federal court ruling that the trademark of the team's name should be cancelled.
He told me in a 2015 interview he's had an affinity for the Native American population in Nevada since he won his first election to the U.S. Senate in 1986. At the time, he told me, he didn't know much about the community, but as he started to learn more about them, he started to root for them.
"I think that everybody pulls for the underdog," Reid said. "If there were ever an underdog, it's the Native Americans. They have been the underdogs. They have been treated so wrongly."
His staff added Thursday that the poll can be viewed a few different ways: The percentage of Native Americans who object to the name more than doubles if you ask the question a different way; 21 percent of Native Americans find the name disrespectful, according to the poll.