NEW YORK --- No minds were changed as the NFL and its chief critic of the Washington pro football club's team name met for about an hour Wednesday afternoon.
Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter and NFL senior executives Adolpho Birch, Jeff Pash and Paul Hicks attended the meeting, but Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington team owner Daniel Snyder did not.
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"We appreciate that they were willing to meet with us," Halbritter said. "I don't think anything was really different other than the fact we expressed our concerns about a word that is a dictionary-defined slur."
The meeting was important because Goodell has said the league should listen to its critics if even one person is offended by the team name.
The meeting also affords standing to the Oneidas as it suggests the NFL recognizes them as worthy adversaries in the long-simmering controversy over the team name.
"We met at the request of Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Nation," the NFL said in a statement. "We listened and respectfully discussed the views of Mr. Halbritter, Oneida Nation Wolf Clan Representative Keller George and their colleagues as well as the sharply differing views of many other Native Americans and fans in general. The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue to facilitate listening and learning, consistent with the commissioner's comments earlier this year."
The Oneidas asked that they be able to meet all of the team owners during Super Bowl week.
Halbritter said the NFL defended the team name on many of the same grounds Snyder cited in a letter to his team's fans.
The NFL is expected to release a statement later Wednesday, and the Oneidas are expected to hold a press briefing as well.
The meeting was held at the Proskauer building at 11 Times Square. The NFL declined to say ahead of time where it would be and a bevy of cameras staked out at NFL headquarters on Park Ave. in vain.
Snyder met with Goodell to discuss his position on Tuesday according to unnamed sources in a report in The Washington Post. The NFL declined to confirm that. Snyder has said he'll never change the name. The league has said team names are determined by the clubs.