Congress tackles the NFL

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The National Football League is once again on a crash course with Congress.

The government’s bid to cancel the Washington Redskin’s trademark has rekindled long-smoldering debate over whether the team’s name is a racial slur, and is testing an increasingly strained relationship between the league and federal lawmakers.

On issues ranging from drug testing and concussions to broadcast blackouts and the league’s tax-exempt status, the NFL has repeatedly attracted negative attention from Congress in recent years.
The league and the Redskins themselves have bolstered their presence in Washington, adding lobbyists and pouring money into both sports safety programs and political coffers.

But decades have passed since Congress bestowed non-profit status and antitrust exemptions upon pro football. Once warm and welcoming, Capitol Hill might now feel to the NFL a little more like Lambeau Field on a frigid Sunday in November.

“I think that the NFL gets a lot of special privileges as a result of congressional enactments of the past,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told The Hill. “I think we ought to ask them how they can countenance having one of their teams with a name that is openly racist.”



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