Anti-Redskins commercial reappears during NBA Finals
For several years now, some Native-American groups have protested the nickname of one of the NFL’s signature franchises: the Washington Redskins. The Kansas City Chiefs, apparently, are acceptable, but Redskins, to many Native-Americans, is a derogatory term. It’s also been the name of the Washington football franchise since 1937 and, thus, is a billion-dollar brand for the league.
Before the Super Bowl earlier this year, the National Congress of American Indians posted a video online, titled “Proud to Be,” urging the league to change Washington’s nickname. On Tuesday night, during halftime of ABC’s telecast of the NBA Finals, an abbreviated version of the two-minute clip aired in seven major markets. Watch it below.
The video reappears at a crucial moment in the debate. In January, after the ad first appeared online, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited studies and polls that supported the use of the nickname and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has proudly described his team’s name as a “badge of honor.”
But since the NBA banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and stripped him of his team for making racially insensitive remarks, there’s been increased scrutiny of the Redskins issue and additional pressure on the NFL to act. Outspoken Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman told TIME that Goodell would never have taken the steps that NBA commissioner Adam Silver did to remove an owner. “Because we have an NFL team called the Redskins,” Sherman said, “I don’t think the NFL really is as concerned as they show. The NFL is more of a bottom-line league. If it doesn’t affect their bottom line, they’re not as concerned.”
Last week, 50 U.S. Senators sent a letter to the NFL, urging the Redskins to abandon their nickname. “The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the senators wrote.
The NFL had no comment on the commercial that aired last night.