WASHINGTON — In interview with Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler said he thinks the “R-word” name for Washington’s National Football League team is offensive and should be changed.
Wheeler’s comments add to the large group of individuals and organizations that think it is time for Washington NFL team owner Dan Snyder to drop the team name.
“I don’t use the term personally and I think it is offensive and derogatory. I am a Civil War buff and there were a lot of terms that were appropriate at that time that aren’t appropriate anymore,” Wheeler told the publication.
Wheeler joins former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, who is leading an effort by former FCC officials and others to pressure Washington NFL team owner Dan Snyder to change the name.
Hundt has stated that the dictionary-defined slur is indecent by FCC standards and that its use may make Snyder an unfit licensee for his Washington radio station.
National Congress of American Indians executive director Jacqueline Pata and Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter, who are leading figures in the Change the Mascot campaign, were pleased with Wheeler’s position and Hundt’s historic support.
“We thank FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and former chair Reed Hundt for their strong stances opposing the R-word, which is a damaging epithet that denigrates Native Americans,” they said in a statement. “These are two men who have been entrusted to determine exactly which words are inappropriate and it is significant and telling that they both agree that the R-word is a derogatory term that is so offensive that it has no place on the public airwaves.”