Sports

Native American group urges Washington football players to speak out against name

The National Congress of American Indians called on Washington Redskins players to take the lead in forcing the team to change its controversial name.

Players should 'rip down that name like it was a statue of a Confederate general'

Washington football players were urged Friday by a Native American group to speak out against the team's name. (Mark Zaleski/The Associated Press)

The National Congress of American Indians called on Washington Redskins players to take the lead in forcing the team to change its controversial name.

Fawn Sharp, president of the organization that represents more than 500 tribal nations, issued the plea Friday via Washingtonian.com.

She said players should "rip down that name like it was a statue of a Confederate general in their locker room" and that they should "sit at home rather than wear the NFL equivalent of the Confederate flag."

"I am calling for members of the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C., to rise to the occasion and become heroes," Sharp and Matthew Randazzo V write in a letter published by the website. "All I ask is that you state the unequivocal moral truth: just as you would never play for the Washington [insert any other racial slur], you will no longer play for any team branded with a racial slur against Native Americans. ...

"Who is brave enough to walk out of the locker room of Washington, D.C.'s National Football League franchise and into the history books?

"What athlete is bold enough, selfless enough to say that he will sacrifice his own well-being to stand up for the millions of Native Americans, and hundreds of Tribal Nations, that are everyday insulted and dehumanized by his employers' brand name racial slur?"

In a separate Q&A with the Washingtonian.com, Sharp said she senses that the current political climate and nationwide unrest over racial injustice could finally be the tipping point to push Washington to make a change.

Earlier this week, the Redskins announced they were removing former owner George Preston Marshall's name from the team's Ring of Fame. Marshall was the last NFL owner to integrate during the 1960s.

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