Erik Brady, USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON - A symposium organized by an American Indian nation was scheduled before President Obama weighed in on the issue of the team name of the Washington pro football club. But the event's organizers were buoyed by Obama's suggestion over the weekend that if he owned the team, he'd consider changing the name.
"It certainly has brought a lot of attention, the first sitting president to speak on this issue," Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said Monday. "I think it's historic. And the more people know about this issue, the more they'll realize it is not just a laughable issue. It's a real issue that causes real harm."
Halbritter spoke to USA TODAY Sports before the symposium started Monday morning. Joel Barkin, an Oneida spokesman, said Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, declined an invitation to attend.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who defended the Washington team name in a letter to Congress, said recently that the NFL needs to listen to its critics on the issue. Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington club, told USA TODAY Sports in May that he'll never change the team name.
The NFL owners will hold their fall meeting in Washington this week.
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