Spike Lee Says NFL Must Pressure D.C. Team to Change Racist Name

The filmmaker has been outspoken against the league and Roger Goodell over the treatment of Colin Kaepernick and the players' peaceful protests.

Spike Lee wants the National Football League to put pressure on the owner of the Washington, D.C., team to change its controversial name. 

While a guest Friday on the SiriusXM's The Joe Madison Show, the Oscar-winning filmmaker joined the renewed outcry for the rebranding, which has gained momentum amid the worldwide anti-racism protests and calls for actual racial equality. 

Lee, who first mocked Roger Goodell as the overseer of the "No Freedom League," said the NFL commissioner should tell team owner Daniel Snyder the name and logo have got to go. 

"He should approach [Snyder] and say if the Confederate stars and bars, good ole boys, they could do that. You gotta do something," Lee said, referencing the recent removal of a number of Confederate leader statues and NASCAR banning the Confederate flag from races. "Can you imagine an NFL team called — now, people don't get mad at me, I'm just making a point — the Chicago Chinks, The Washington Wasps, The Nevada Niggas?”

Lee has been an outspoken critic of the league and Goodell over the treatment of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players who engaged in peaceful on-field protests. Goodell has since apologized for how the situations were handled and encouraged teams to sign Kaepernick for the upcoming season. Currently, due to pandemic restrictions, teams are not allowed to work out players for a possible roster spot. 

As for the D.C. team, there has been outcry and pushback over the team name for decades. Snyder said previously it would not be changed. He has given no indication that recent events have caused him to reconsider. The team was established in 1932. It is one of the oldest clubs in the NFL.

Last week, actor and comic D.L. Hughley said the name needed to be changed and suggested the Black players on the team refuse to play until there is action on the rebrand. 

"And, the Redskins, it's just as disgusting, and just as denigrating as the N-word in my estimation," Hughley said. "And I think that if we stopped playing for them, we stopped supporting their gang. Let me tell you, without Black people, football would be rugby. And it is one of the clearest examples of how powerful we are."

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said recently that the name was “an obstacle” for the team getting a new stadium in the District because the land would likely be leased by the federal government.

“I think it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people,” Bowser said. “This is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in Washington, and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team.”