ASHBURN, Va. — The latest back-and-forth over the Washington Redskins name includes a stern letter from two lawmakers and a new “community voices” campaign from the team.
A letter sent Monday from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., tells NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league is on “the wrong side of history” and mentions the league’s tax-exempt status. Cantwell chairs the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
The lawmakers specifically objected to Goodell’s Super Bowl week news conference, when he said the Redskins name has been “presented in a way that honors Native Americans.”
“It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans,” the letter states.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league will respond to the letter “in an appropriate manner” once it has been reviewed.
Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie responded to the letter with an email statement, saying: “With all the important issues Congress has to deal with, such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name?”
That prompted a statement from Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Indian Nation, which has been at the forefront of the push to change the team’s name.
“While the Washington team somehow claims that Congress has better things to do than intervene in a serious issue that involves taxpayer dollars, it is the exact opposite: Congress has a responsibility to the American people to put an end to this kind of taxpayer-subsidized bigotry,” Halbritter said.
The Redskins also countered by saying they’ve received “almost 200” letters and emails in recent months in support of the name from people who identified themselves as Native Americans or as family members of Native Americans. They say they’ve received only seven letters from Native Americans opposed to the name. The team released excerpts from the letters and called them “community voices.”
“We should not turn our back on these Native Americans,” the team’s statement said. “Their voices deserve to be heard.”
Steelers bring back
Porter as coach
PITTSBURGH — Former All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter has rejoined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive assistant coach.
Porter joined the Steelers staff after receiving his first coaching experience at his alma mater last season as a student assistant on Colorado State coach Jim McElwain’s staff while taking classes to complete his degree.
Porter worked with the Rams’ pass rushers, including linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who posted 12 sacks.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said: “We are excited about having Joey back with the Steelers’ family. Joey spent a number of years with Pittsburgh as a player, and now he’s back to assist the coaching staff. We look forward to his efforts and contributions.”
Porter played 13 NFL seasons with Pittsburgh, Miami and Arizona and was a four-time All-Pro.
New York panel to eye
potential site for Bills
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named the first five members of a panel tasked with looking into the potential for building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
Three of Cuomo’s five appointees include Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
The move, first reported Monday by The Buffalo News, follows through on a promise Cuomo made in December 2012, when the Bills agreed to a new 10-year lease with the state and Erie County to continue playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. At that time, the governor said he would establish an advisory group to explore the potential of building a new stadium in western New York for the NFL franchise.
The current stadium is undergoing $130 million in renovations.