WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 19, 2014):  Embattled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a major mea culpa, has just promised “we will get our house in order,” in large part by hiring many more experts, but this strangely doesn’t include those with expertise about American Indians and the team’s major public relations problems regarding the “racial slur” Redskins, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

NFL's Roger Goodell Hiring Many Experts, But None About Indians

Goodell hires experts to help make up lack of expertise in the NFL

Claiming that he and the league did not fully understand or appreciate a wide variety of problems – including spousal abuse and other violence against women, excess force regarding the disciplining of children, the reduction of concussion-related and other unnecessary injuries, etc.  – Goodell pledged, in what some think is a last-ditch effort to hold on to his position, to hire lots of experts from many different fields and disciplines to help make up for the lack of expertise in the NFL in so many areas.

But, unfortunately, and perhaps strangely, he didn’t even mention hiring as advisers, consultants, or staff any American Indians or other experts on American Indian issues, not anyone who can advise the league about the strength of the legal and public relations problems it might face by continuing to ignore the growing concern about a team with a “racial slur” as a name.

“Even if Goodell and the league truly believe that continued use of the R-word – which many American Indian organizations claim is as offensive to them as the N-word is to African Americans – isn’t serious, they should at least learn from their experience in failing to take effective action regarding the many other problems they didn’t adequately address, and at least hire people with the requisite expertise to tell them whether or not they are making another big mistake,” says Banzhaf, whose petition opposing the renewal of a broadcast license on these grounds is now being considered by the FCC.

Goodell forced to admit he did not pay much attention

Goodell has now been forced to admit that for far too long he and the league did not pay sufficient attention to a wide variety of problems, including violence by players against the women in their lives, the paucity of support for games by the half of the adult population who are female, the excessive discipline – possibly even amounting to criminal child abuse – by some of the players, and the incredible rate of concussion-related injuries caused to so many players.

It should not be such a big step to admit that he and the league might likewise not be paying sufficient attention to the growing chorus of major organizations and governmental officials objecting to the “Redskins” name, a decision to invalidate “Redskins” trademarks, challenges to broadcast licenses over the issue, a stadium poised not to permit the name or logo to be shown at an upcoming game, ads and picketing at stadiums over the name, etc., suggests Banzhaf.

Should they not at least get some expert advice on this matter before deciding by default to continue to ignore this festering issues, he suggests.

JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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