Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that the Redskins will change the name of the team within three years.
Today, Reid pushed for it to happen even sooner.
“The National Football League should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack,” Reid said Wednesday on the Senate Floor, via NBCNews.com, with a bad basketball pun. “It would be a slam dunk,” he added, with an even worse pun. “For far too long the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated,” Reid said, thankfully ditching the puns.
“How long will the NFL continue to do nothing — zero — as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?” Reid said. He also praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for taking swift and decisive action against Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whose ugly views on race became known through a privately-recorded conversation with his ex-girlfriend.
The difference with the Redskins is that the nickname has been hiding in plain sight for years. While no sports team ever could adopt that name now (which actually could strengthen the argument to change it), decades of existence will make it much harder to justify change now. Unless and until the NFL concludes that it has no choice but to nudge owner Daniel Snyder to change the name — and unless and until Snyder can find a way to at a minimum save face or at most to leverage some tangible benefit (like a Super Bowl in D.C.) — the name will remain.
That could come in the next three years or perhaps in the next 30. For now, it’s highly unlikely that the Sterling situation will prompt change in the next three weeks or three months.