You would think the NFL could take a hint. Concussions, misogyny, racism, seems like these would be, uh, whatever the football version of a layup would be. Instead, the league continues to, uh, whatever the football version of fumble is (wait, what?). Now it’s become an international issue.
Washington is scheduled to play the Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London on October 30th, but that’s not going to happen if the English Parliament has anything to say about that. Members of Parliament Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin wrote a firmly-worded letter (oh my!) to NFL Commish Roger Goodall asking that if Washington’s mascot isn’t changed, then the NFL should send a different team because:
The exportation of [the] racial slur to the U.K. this autumn, when the Washington team is due to play, directly contravenes the values that many in Britain have worked so hard to instill.
The MPs went on to say that:
sport is a vehicle for cultural change and celebration of what’s best about society rather than hate and division. That’s why bringing in new racial slurs to Britain is unacceptable. This is not the way we would want Native Americans introduced to our country.
Okay first, in my best Chandler Bing voice, could the names Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin BE any more British? The letter might has well come from Sucksatfootball Badteeth and Teadrinkin’ Leftsidedriver. Second, while the NFL does need a lesson in tolerance, it probably shouldn’t come from the country that tried to colonize the whole globe. And third, did they not find it offensive when the Chiefs played there last year? Hell, didn’t they find it offensive that the Lions lost by 35 against the Chiefs?
While the NFL may not listen to Smeeth and Austin (honestly, it sounds like a drunk version of Smith and Wesson), Wembley has its own anti-racism charter that could be invoked. But after its federal trademark was revoked and the state of California banned high schools using that name as a mascot, perhaps its time for the NFL to quit fighting so hard to stay on the wrong side of history and do the right thing (not something the NFL is known for).
Photo via Getty
David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is one for SportsGrid.