D.C. Congresswoman files bill to strip NFL of antitrust protection

Taking advantage of the publicity associated with the dawn of a a new NFL season, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a bill to strip the league of its federal antitrust protection as long as they sanction Washington’s nickname, which many consider racist.

“The National Football League, a multi-billion dollar industry, and the Washington football team should not be benefitting financially from federal antitrust exemptions while they continue to promote a disparaging moniker that has been found by legal authorities to be a racial slur,” Norton, a Democrat from the District of Columbia said. “The name of the nation’s capital, Washington, should always be associated with pride, not with a moniker that mocks and insults Native Americans.

“Changing the name is not a question of if, but when. The sooner Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s 29 other team owners get on the right side of the law and of history and use their leadership, the sooner Washington’s football team will cease being an embarrassment to the league and to the country.”

Threatening the league’s antitrust exemption is a powerful political tool, and the league won’t give it up easily. But ti could also be used as leverage toward some other means. Norton’s own press release cites another bill she introduced last year as pressuring the league to give up its tax-exempt status.

It will be interesting to see how the league responds, after giving up the blackout rule protection recently as well.

Snyder has dug in his heels on the issue, resisting every external pressure thus far. We may soon see whether Congressional pressure in his back yard changes that.