Dayton calls Washington NFL team name ‘racist’

Gov. Mark Dayton speaks to reporters during a news conference on the release of new education data. (Photo by Tim Pugmire)

Gov. Mark Dayton said today that he believes the Washington Redskins is a racist team name that should be changed.

Dayton weighed in on the controversy ahead of the scheduled NFL game in Minneapolis between Washington and the Minnesota Vikings. American Indian activists and others who oppose the team name plan to demonstrate. They’ve also called for stadium officials to ban the use of the name.

Dayton told reporters that he thinks “Redskins” is antiquated and offensive, but he would not say whether its use should be banned.

“I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a constitutional scholar,” Dayton said. “I don’t know where First Amendment rights prevail and where offensive language takes precedent. So, I don’t feel qualified to comment on that part of it.”

Dayton said those opposed to the nickname should focus their efforts on the team. He said they should also be putting pressure on Congress to get involved.

Dayton made the comments following an education news conference, which was his first public appearance in two weeks. He was working from home during that time and recovering from a medical procedure on his ailing hip, which he injured in June. Dayton said he is now feeling excellent.

“I have no pain in my hip at all,” he said.