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University of Minnesota and Vikings Working to Ban R-word From NFL Matchup

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The University of Minnesota, in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings, is working to eradicate the Washington football team’s name at their November 2 match up with the Vikings in the university’s stadium..

Last month, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), wrote a letter to Zygi Wilf, the Vikings’ owner asking him to keep the R-word from being used in “promotional and game date materials and public address announcements” during the game on November 2 -- which is the first time in the season that the teams will play against each other -- and she copied the university’s president Eric Kaler.

McCollum also said in the letter that the university’s stadium was built with funding from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux and argued that the university has a non-discrimination policy.

Kaler wrote McCollum back and said that he agreed that the name is offensive and needs to be replaced. He also said that the university does not “have specific authority over NFL team behaviors or the Minnesota Vikings schedule” but that they would work with the Vikings to “make every effort to eliminate the use of Washington’s team name” from their game.

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Meanwhile, Lester Bagley, the Vikings executive vice president of public affairs, released this statement, which was posted onDeadspin:

Lester Bagley, the Vikings' executive vice president of public affairs, said Wednesday night that the team is still deciding how it will handle the college's request to eliminate the use of the Redskins' name for the Nov. 2 game. He said Vikings and school officials met once on the issue, in late July at the university, but plan on further talks between now and November.

"We take the issue very seriously, but we're just getting ready for our season and we've been very focused on training camp and the preseason, and to be honest, we don't have a game plan for our Nov. 2 game versus Washington," Bagley said.

According to the Washington Post, Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said Wednesday night that the team disagrees with the school’s effort to ban the name at the game. “We have met many native Americans from Minnesota who agree with our position and feel we are using the term correctly and honorably,” he said.

While the Vikings are waiting for their new stadium to be built, the team will play all of their home games at the University of Minnesota. According to the Associated Press, the Vikings pay $250,000 to the university to host each game.