City Paper is not for tourists
The Pigskins Shame Spiral is an occasional feature tracking developments related to the name of D.C.’s beloved football team.
Who: Fifty members of the U.S. Senate.
Change the name? Yes. Fifty senators wrote a letter Wednesday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying that “racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”
Why? The senators wrote the letter in the wake of the NBA’s actions against Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was banned from the league after recordings of him making racist remarks emerged. In the letter, the senators urge the NFL to follow the same example as the NBA, adding that “athletes have often [sic] a driving force for equality and diversity in our nation.”
“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations,” the senators wrote. “We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises.”
Shame Spiral rating: SMDH. Getting 50 senators to agree on anything is definitely a feat these days; the senators employ the compelling tactic of comparing Goodell to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver swiftly punished Sterling, a swift repudiation of racist language. By allowing the Washington football team’s name to remain, Goodell falls short of this rather low bar.
The letter, however, would be far stronger if it included the signatures of at least a couple of Republican senators. Although Maryland’s senators both signed the letter—-notable since that’s where the team plays—-the two Democratic senators from Virginia, where the team practices, did not.
Illustration by Jandos Rothstein