An American Indian tribe in upstate New York said Thursday it will launch a radio ad campaign pushing for the Washington Redskins to shed a name often criticized as offensive.
The Oneida Indian Nation said the first ad will run on radio stations in Washington before the team hosts the Philadelphia Eagles in its season opener Monday night. In the ad, Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should "stand up to bigotry" by denouncing "the racial slur" in the team's name.
"We do not deserve to be called redskins," the Oneida leader says in the ad. "We deserve to be treated as what we are — Americans."
The radio ad said Goodell had rightly been critical this summer after the Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on video making a racial slur against African-Americans.
The ads launch as the Washington Redskins this year face a fresh barrage of criticism over their nickname, with local leaders and pundits calling for a name change. In May, 10 members of Congress sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Goodell urging the team to change the name.
Snyder has vowed to never change the name and there was no immediate response from the Redskins organization.
The Oneida said the first ad will run Sunday and Monday on several stations in Washington — except on the station owned by Snyder.
WTEM, also known as ESPN 980, vetoed the advertisement instantly, according to an email stream that the Oneida Nation shared with USA TODAY Sports. Lewis Schreck, the radio station's senior vice president, used two words and seven exclamation points to reject the ad. "No way!!!!!!!"
Subsequent ads will run in Washington during home games and in the cities hosting the team when it is away. A spokesman for the Oneidas would not say how much the campaign would cost beyond "multiple thousands."