The District of Columbia's congresswoman on Thursday introduced a bill to strip the NFL of its federal antitrust protection as long as it allows Washington's football team to use the name "Redskins," a moniker some see as racist.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said the National Football League and Washington's football team "should not be benefiting 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."
A federal judge in July upheld an earlier decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office that the name is "disparaging to Native Americans" and is thus ineligible for federal trademark registration.
Norton, a Democrat, said in a statement "the name of the nation's capital, Washington, should always be associated with pride, not with a moniker that mocks and insults Native Americans."
Calling the name an "embarrassment to the league and to the country," Norton said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's team owners need to "get on the right side of the law and of history and change the name."
The owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder, has said the name shows respect to Native Americans and he will not change it under any circumstances.
Neither the NFL nor the Redskins responded to requests for comment.
Congress granted the NFL and the other major pro sports leagues antitrust exemption in 1961, allowing teams to work together in negotiating contracts.
Last year, Norton tried to force a name change through a bill that would have denied tax-exempt status to any pro sports league that allowed a member to benefit from the name Redskins.
However, the NFL in April gave up that tax-exempt status on its own.
Norton can propose legislation in the House but has no vote because she represents the District of Colombia.
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