Letters signed by 50 U.S. senators urging the league to change the Washington Redskins name were sent on Thursday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The senators draw a parallel between the NBA’s no-tolerance policy regarding the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and asks the NFL to act similarly.
“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,” the senators write. “It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.
“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. 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 marquee franchises.”
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has opposed the name change, and his team has launched its own public relations campaign issuing comments by Native Americans that continue to support the name.
The NFL has stood behind Snyder and issued its own response Thursday to the news of the senators’ letter.
“We have not received the letter, but the NFL has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The team name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”
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