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Councilman David Grosso wants Redskins to change name to Redtails

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,David Grosso

An at-large D.C. Council member wants the Washington Redskins to change their name -- maybe to the Washington Redtails.

"We have to change it, and I'm calling on Dan Snyder and the NFL to step up and do the right thing," said Councilman David Grosso. "I just don't want it to be the racist, derogatory name that they've been using for all this time."

Grosso has proposed a nonbinding resolution that urges the football team's ownership to recognize that its name is offensive to many Native Americans.

The resolution, which already has the support of eight other council members, suggests a new name for the team: the Washington Redtails.

Grosso said he came up with the name last summer while trading ideas with his father-in-law.

"We were thinking of all sorts of names," he said.

The pair ultimately landed on Redtails because it was a nickname for the Tuskegee Airmen, a famous group of African-American pilots in World War II. It also refers to the red-tailed hawk, one of the most common hawks in North America.

"It's just a suggestion," Grosso said. "I just don't want it to be offensive, and at the end, what I'd love to call them is world champions."

A spokesman for the Washington Redskins declined to comment on the resolution.

On Twitter, Grosso's proposed name change received a divided reaction.

One user, @Section227, who boasts being a "Skins Fan since I was born," tweeted, "Hail....to....the.....RedTails???? @GrossoAtLarge @cmdgrosso NEVER!!!"

Others were more positive, tweeting, "good idea!" and "definitely a move I support."

A spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray wrote in an email, "This is the first we've heard of it. We'll have to review the legislation."

Gray has attracted controversy in the past on the issue of the Redskins' name. In February, he drew some criticism when he suggested the team would have to consider changing its name if it ever wanted to move back to the city.

Charles Allen, chief of staff for potential mayoral candidate Tommy Wells, wrote in an email that Wells supported the resolution but that he doesn't have "a strong opinion" about what the new name would be.

This isn't the first time the Council has considered weighing in on the Redskins name. In 2002, then-Councilwoman Carol Schwartz introduced a similar resolution, without the Redtails name proposal, which was passed by the Council.

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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