Letter from Congresswoman McCollum to Zygi Wilf Regarding Washington Team Name

Jun 20, 2014

June 19, 2014

Mr. Zygi Wilf

Minnesota Vikings Football Club
9520 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie MN, 55344

Dear Mr. Wilf:

Yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled to cancel legal protections for the trademarked name of the National Football League’s Washington franchise because it is “disparaging to Native Americans.”  The time for debate has ended – the name of the Washington franchise is clearly an offensive racial slur. I urge you, as an NFL team owner, to not remain silent on this matter any longer.

Thirty-one NFL franchises split the sales of their licensed merchandise equally.  When a shirt, cap, or jersey bearing the Washington team name is sold, the Minnesota Vikings share in the profit from that sale.  After yesterday’s decision, all NFL owners must now ask themselves if they want to continue to profit from a name so hurtful to our Native American brothers and sisters that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed it ineligible for federal protection. By taking a stand to change the mascot, you can send a very clear message to the Native Americans and their many allies throughout Minnesota and our nation that you no longer wish to profit and benefit from the commercialization of that hateful slur. 

In November, the Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to host the Washington franchise for a game on the University of Minnesota campus at TCF Bank Stadium. As you will be a co-host with the University on their campus, I would like to remind you of three facts.  First, Minnesota has a strong Native American community and TCF Bank Stadium honors that community with a plaza recognizing each of our tribal nations. In addition, one of those tribal nations, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, contributed to the funding of this stadium. Lastly, the presence of the Washington franchise and their racist name on the University of Minnesota campus would be in violation of the Board of Regents’ Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action Policy.

A strong condemnation of the Washington franchise’s name by the Minnesota Vikings Football Club would go a long way towards helping to change the mascot.    

Mr. Wilf, I believe you are a man of integrity. Therefore I am calling upon you to publically demonstrate leadership on behalf of your organization and the people of Minnesota by adding your voice to the millions of Americans who are calling for this racist mascot to be changed and for Native Americans to be treated with respect and dignity by the NFL.

Sincerely,

Betty McCollum
Member of Congress