WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid slammed the NFL on Tuesday for focusing on the fallout of the New England Patriots “Deflategate” saga, over focusing on changing the name of the Washington Redskins.
On Monday, the league decided to suspend New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games, in light of the incident, where the Patriots were found to have used underinflated footballs to gain an advantage in the playoffs.
Reid, who has repeatedly said that the name of the Washington Redskins is racist and needs to be changed, used this punishment as an opportunity to slam the NFL for what he considers to be a hypocritical move.
In a tweet posted Tuesday, the Nevada Senator said that the NFL team is a “racist franchise.”
The NFL also fined the Patriots $1 million and stripped them of their first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
“Yesterday, the National Football League punished one of its most recognizable players for having tampered with game balls,” said Reid in a statement, adding that “The Redskins name is a racist name. So I wish the commissioner would act as swiftly and decisively in changing the name of the DC team as he did about not enough air in a football.”
Reid’s comments come as a highly-charged controversy over the Washington team’s mascot persists.
Last spring Reid endorsed a letter addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with fifty other senators, urging the league to change the name of the team.
The owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder, also came under fire in 2013 when the the Oneida Indian Nation of New York aired a radio ad protesting the name.
The group launched a national “Change the Mascot” campaign, urging Goodell to change the name.
In 2013 Snyder strongly disputed the claim that the name of his team is racist and said that while he respects “the feelings of those who are offended by the team name,” he hopes “such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”