WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins' nickname has long been controversial, but a recent case in Maryland federal court has thrown the team's name back into the spotlight.
U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte -- a federal judge in Maryland -- issued a ruling last week in a Redskins-related lawsuit that purposely didn't include the team's name, according to The Washington Post.
A footnote on the first page of the ruling explained the elimination of the team's nickname:
"Pro Football's team is popularly known as the Washington ‘Redskins,' but the Court will refrain from using the team name unless reference is made to a direct quote where the name appears. Pro Football's team will be referred to hereafter simply as ‘the Washington Team.'"
The case involved New York Giants linebaker Barrett Green accusing Redskins tight end Robert Royal of intentionally hurting Green as part of a bounty program in 2004, The Post reports.
Messitte had already ordered attorneys in the case not to use the team's name in the courtroom, one of the lawyers told The Post.
"My footnote is what it is," Messitte said when The Post sought clarification.
The judge's decisions comes about a month after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled the Redskins' name is "disparaging of Native Americans" and should be stripped of trademark protection.
Neither the ruling nor Messitte's decision directly force the team to abandon the name, but they add momentum to the campaign to change it. Many political, religious and sports figures say it's time for a change, too, and point to Redskins owner Dan Snyder to make it happen.
Snyder and others associated with the team have long argued that the Redskins name is used with respect and honor and is a source of pride among many American Indians.
The Redskins announced they will appeal the trademark protection ruling, but team representatives have not released any comments on Messitte's comment.
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