WASHINGTON -- A member of Congress is requesting a hearing on the Washington Redskins' name, calling it "another example of racial insensitivity in sports" in the wake of Donald Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., sent a letter Friday to the chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce citing the derogatory nature of the word "redskins" and suggesting the committee use its influence to persuade team owner Dan Snyder and the NFL to change the name.
Waxman appears unlikely to get the hearing before the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and oversees professional sports.
"The committee really hasn't been focused on the names of pro sports teams," committee spokeswoman Charlotte Baker said Friday in an email, "and there are no plans to schedule a hearing on this issue."
Waxman pointed that Los Angeles Clippers owner Sterling's recent ban resulted from racist comments made in private, then added: "In the case of the Washington football team, the offensive conduct is public, not private."
"Unlike NBA commissioner (Adam) Silver, the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, has publicly defended the owner," Waxman wrote. "In fact, he stated in a letter that 'the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.' "
Waxman suggested the committee could call both Snyder and Goodell as witnesses to explain "how their actions are consistent with the public interest."
The Redskins declined comment on Waxman's letter. Snyder has vowed never to change the name, calling it a "badge of honor."