|Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the former chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, held a meeting with tribal organizations, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and representatives of the Washington football team:
As calls to change the name of the Washington Redskins escalated in 2013, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and top officials from the Redskins organization, including general manager Bruce Allen, met in secret with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Native American leaders who support changing the name, two sources with knowledge of the meeting told ThinkProgress.
Cantwell, then the chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, organized the December meeting, which was held off Capitol Hill in part to avoid publicity and facilitate an open dialogue between the participants. Goodell and Redskins general manager Bruce Allen were present, according to the sources, as was former Virginia senator and governor George Allen, who has been paid by the team for consulting advice around the name and is the general manager’s brother. The meeting also included leaders from several top Native American groups, including National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY), and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
The meeting was intended as a listening session for a league and team that have insisted that they are willing to have an open dialogue with those opposed to the name, the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was supposed to remain private, said. But the sources said the league and team approached the meeting in a defensive stance that left the opponents who were present with the sense that the NFL and the Redskins hadn’t taken their concerns to heart. That, along with the public comments both the NFL and Redskins made in the months after that seemed to backtrack from Goodell’s earlier insistence that the league needed “to be listening,” may have contributed to Cantwell’s decision to take her fight against the name public.
Cantwell and her staff, through a spokesperson, declined to comment for this story. Goodell and the NFL, through a spokesperson, also declined to comment.
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In Secret Meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Discussed Redskins Name Change With U.S. Senator