On Wednesday, 50 senators signed a letter to the NFL urging the league to change the Redskins name in light of the NBA’s swift actions regarding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racism.
“Today, we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports,” they wrote, without using the term “Redskins.” “It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.”
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) were among five Senate Democrats who did not sign the letter. According to the New York Times, the letter was circulated by Sen. Maria Cantwell and endorsed by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Cantwell had reportedly met with league officials, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, earlier in the year to discuss a name change. The letter was reportedly not circulated among Republicans.
“We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its most marquee franchises,” they continued. “Now is the time to act.”
The senators also said the “Washington, D.C. football team is on wrong side of history” and asked, “what message does it send to punish slurs against African Americans while endorsing slurs against Native Americans?”
They also claimed that, “Indian Country has spoken clearly on this issue.”
“I have 22 tribal organizations in Nevada,” Reid, who has predicted that the Redskins would change their name within three years, told the Times. “They are not mascots. They are human beings. And this term Redskins is offensive to them.”
As Breitbart Sports reported, after previously saying that of the Redskins name that, “if one person is offended, we have to listen,” Goodell has defended the team’s name. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to “NEVER” change the name.
A league spokesman said the league has not yet received the letter and emphasized to the Times that the “intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image” and the name is not used in any other context.
Last year, the Redskins touted a poll from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling that found “90 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of Democrats, and 65% of independents believe the team should not change their name” while only “18% feel the team should.”