Arizona Senator John McCain weighed in on the Redskins name controversy, saying Native American’s need to be consulted about the issue while on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday.
Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, has been embroiled in controversy over refusing to change the team’s name.
“If I were [Snyder], I’d call the Native American leaders together and I’d sit down with them,” said McCain. “I’d say ‘O.K., what is it that you want, how do you want me to do it?’”
The senator said he knows Snyder has specific rights as the owner, but the United States has a long history with Native Americans that needs to be considered. McCain mentioned Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, saying they were a bad chapter in American history.
He said if Native Americans were offended by the Redskins’ name, it needed to be changed.
McCain reiterated he would like to see Snyder meet with Native American leaders and see if they couldn’t work it out.
The former presidential candidate concluded, “If they think it is that offensive and terrible … frankly, I would probably change the name.”
While steadfastly refusing to even consider changing the team’s name, Snyder started the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, stating on the team’s website that he wants to help the Native American Community.
“The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community,” Snyder posted on Redskins.com.
Many Native American leaders do not seem impressed by Snyder’s initiative, while some are actively distancing themselves from the foundation.
For his part, McCain goes on to say, “Myself, I’m not offended, [Dan], you’re not offended, but there are a lot of Native Americans that are.”
Whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the powers to make Snyder change the name, is another matter.
Native American leaders have used the Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban from the NBA as a rallying cry to motivate the NFL to act on the Redskins name change.
While saying he wasn’t sure the two issues were related, McCain did react to the Sterling fiasco.
McCain says what Sterling said was “unacceptable” and “racist.”
Senator McCain had very kind words to say about Kevin Johnson, an integral part of resolving the Sterling incident, saying he is “one of the really great guys I’ve ever known.”
McCain expects to see Donald Sterling challenge the NBA’s ruling in court before this is all decided.
“[It’s] unacceptable,” said McCain. “I’m glad they [banned him]. End of story.”
Bill Leopold is an associate producer for NBCSports.com.