In December 2013, Roger Goodell and Redskins executives quietly met with a U.S. Senator and Native American activists opposed to the team name. It was the first such meetings since the 1970s, and it was not constructive.
The get-together was reported today by Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress. On the opponents' side, there was Sen. Maria Cantwell, then the chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, along with leaders of several Native advocacy groups. Along with the NFL commissioner, the Redskins brought GM Bruce Allen and his brother, former Virginia governor George Allen, who's now being paid as a consultant to defend the team name. The Redskins brought some guests as well:
The sources said the defensive posture was evident from the Redskins and NFL's decision to unexpectedly bring two Native Americans with them to defend the name. That contributed to the sense that the team and the league were more committed to defending the name than they were interested in listening to the actual points of contention, given that none of the name's opponents have disputed the idea that there are indeed Native Americans who like the name and want it to stay.
After that meeting, and Goodell's comments during Super Bowl week that the Redskins name "has honored Native Americans," Cantwell co-wrote an open letter to the commissioner demanding that the league take a firm position on the future of the name. The NFL had no response, but the Redskins began sending out weekly releases featuring letters from fans claiming Native ancestry who support the team name.