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Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell announced she plans to introduce legislation this week that would strip the NFL of its federal tax-exempt status if any of the league’s team names contain a racial slur.  The intended target of the legislation, of course, is the offensively named Washington football team.

Cantwell made the announcement today at a “Change the Mascot” press conference on Capitol Hill. The press conference was, in part, intended to show the growing momentum behind the push to change the name. Cantwell, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, religious leaders, and Native American leaders were all in attendance.

“The NFL needs to join the rest of this county in the 21st century,” said Cantwell, the former chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, who sent a foreboding letter earlier this year telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he could lose the NFL’s tax-exempt status if he does not take action against the team name.

The Change the Mascot campaign also announced today that it’s sending a letter to each NFL team owner urging them to help change the Washington football team’s name, saying “the league is promoting this racial slur with the resources of every team, including yours, which makes it a league-wide crisis.” The Change the Mascot campaign is organized by the Oneida Indian Nation.

Norton said that if Pigskins owner Dan Snyder wants to bring the team back to D.C., she thinks he’s going to have to change the name first.

“I would make every effort in Congress to make sure they don’t come to [D.C.] with that name,” she said.

Photo by Perry Stein