Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, released a statement Tuesday amid increasing pressure on the Jewish owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, to change the name of the NFL team.
Foxman said the ultimate decision to change a team’s name, however, “should come from the team’s ownership with input from the fan base. It is up to them to decide to let go of this hurtful tradition.”
Other teams have come under fire for similar reasons, including the Cleveland Indians, whose grinning, red-faced mascot Chief Wahoo has been called racist and offensive.
Teams such as the Redskins and the Indians “have a responsibility to be sensitive to the legitimate hurt that offensive names, mascots and logos cause,” Foxman said. “Tradition matters, but tradition should not justify the perpetuation of such names and mascots. A name change will not impact how a team fares on the field, or in the standings.”
On Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones defended Snyder’s decision to adhere to the Redskins name.
“It would be a real mistake – a real mistake – to think that Dan, who is Jewish, has a lack of sensitivity regarding somebody’s feelings,” said Jones, according to the Washington Post. “I promise you that.”
The comments came after President Obama last week said that if he were the owner of the team, he would consider changing the name because it is offensive to some people.