A protracted fight over the name and logo of football’s Washington Redskins prompted a request Thursday that Minnesota stadium officials take special steps when the team comes to town next month for a nationally televised game.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota appealed for operators of the Metrodome to refrain from using the name and imagery and asked that media outlets do the same. Executive Director Chuck Samuelson called the Redskins name offensive and hurtful to Native Americans, some of whom have made similar requests.
The Vikings host the Redskins on Nov. 7 for a game that will air from coast-to-coast on cable’s NFL Network.
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chief Michele Kelm-Helgen said the public agency was meeting Thursday afternoon with people raising concerns and consulting attorneys. She planned to provide a public update on the private deliberations during an authority hearing on Friday.
”We’re looking at, but in general I do know that most of those things are controlled by the team and the NFL on game day,” she said.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said his team has had its own conversations with Native Americans in the state and respects their concerns. But he said the decisions largely rest with the NFL and he deferred further comment to the league.
An NFL spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. While the Redskins name is deeply engrained in the franchise’s storied history, it has a been a growing source of concern for the league in the wake of comments by President Barack Obama and others who have focused more attention on efforts to change it.
Earlier this month, Obama told The Associated Press that he would ”think about changing” the name if he owned the team.
Asked about the ACLU’s statement in Minnesota and asked to respond, Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie wrote in an email to the AP: ”We are focused on the Broncos game.”
General manager Bruce Allen gave a similarly dismissive reply at the NFL owners’ meetings this month when he was asked about the nickname issue.