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NFL official: Redskins name not a slur

League stands behind franchise on issue. Jason Butt

Print This May 31, 2014, 04:24 PM EST

After NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith criticized the Washington Redskins' team name, a league official went on the record to state that the NFL does not believe the nickname is a slur.

Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, phoned into ESPN's Outside the Lines program on Friday to talk about the issue, which has generated a lot of controversy in recent years.

Birch said the league's stance is that the Redskins' name is not meant to offend.

"The team name is the team name as it has been for 80-plus years," he said. "And what we need to do is get beyond sort of understanding this as a point-blank situation and understand it more as a variety of perspectives that all need to be addressed, that all need to be given some weight, so that at the end of it we can come to some understanding that is appropriate and reflects the opinions of all."

When pressed on it, Birch said, "the team name is not a slur."

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has previously said he'll never change the name. Smith recently stated in a separate interview with ESPN, "The name Redskins is offensive to some and is a slur, I'm not sure that this issue boils down to what any particular player has to say -- what it boils down to is the united nation and others have raised a legitimate conversation to the NFL about the name of the team that is entirely within their control."

This conversation with Birch and ESPN followed the Redskins hoping to gain public support for their name by asking twitter followers what the name means to them, and to express it to U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a strong opponent to the nickname.

The public relations stunt backfired, with a large number of twitter users criticizing the organization.

One of the funnier tweets came from the handle @50_MissionCap, which responded to what the Redskins name means by writing, "Being #1 at racism in a division with Riley Cooper."

Cooper was caught on camera using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert almost a year ago.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

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