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50 senators to NFL: Change Redskins' racist name

50 U.S. Senators Urging Redskins Name Change


By ALAN FRAM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Half the U.S. Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday to change the Washington Redskins' name, saying it is a racist slur and the time is ripe to replace it.

In one letter, 49 senators cited the NBA's quick action recently to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after he was heard on an audio recording making offensive comments about blacks. They said Goodell should formally push to rename the Redskins.

"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," read the letter, which did not use the word "Redskins."

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, wrote his own letter saying he doesn't believe that retaining the Redskin name "is appropriate in this day and age." He described himself as "one of your great fans for both the game and you personally."

The letters come at a time of growing pressure to change the team name, with statements in recent months from President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the name, citing tradition. The franchise has been known as the Redskins since 1933, when it played in Boston.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., took to the Senate floor to say Snyder should "do what is morally right" and change the name. Thursday's letters were aimed directly at Goodell.

In a written response, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said "diversity and inclusion" have long been a focus of the NFL.

"The intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image," McCarthy said. "The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently."

Reid and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., led the letter-writing effort. All senators on the letter are Democrats. Cantwell spokesman Jared Leopold said Republicans were not asked to participate.

Cantwell later said on the Senate floor that she was inviting Republicans to sign the letter or write their own.

"I'm convinced that if each member of this body speaks on this issue and is forceful in their resolve, that we can help initiate change," she said.

Democrats not signing the letter were Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of nearby Virginia, where the team's headquarters are; Mark Pryor of Arkansas, in a tight re-election race this year; and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, two of their party's more moderate lawmakers.

The senators noted that tribal organizations representing more than 2 million Native Americans across the U.S. have said they want the Redskins name dropped.

Despite federal laws protecting their identity, "Every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C., football team mocks their culture," they wrote.

"The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur," the letter said.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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usci1 May 22 2014 at 2:37 PM

How stupid of the senators. First of all, native americans do not have "red" skins as humans. Neither do African-Americans have "black" skin but shades of brown. This whole debate on human skin color is absurd and stupid! Who benefits $$$$ when people are pitted against each other over a lies about skin color and appeals to the ignorant?!

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24 replies
dharr257 May 22 2014 at 2:37 PM

it is only racist if you make it that way

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13 replies
m113d May 22 2014 at 2:37 PM

The country is going to hell and these nitwits worry about a football teams name. Reid is a pompous old fool who needs to go into retirement ASAP. The economy, health care, infrastructure, and a boatload of other problems and this is all the senate majority leader finds time to make a passionate plea for!

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35 replies
Poppi May 22 2014 at 2:38 PM

Hey fools in the senate. Forget about your liberal sensibilities and just do your job. Cut your salary you get paid too much and it shows because this is what you fools concern yourselves with.

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10 replies
boemac98 May 22 2014 at 2:41 PM

Has Congress passed any laws in the last 6 months ? Why are we paying them ?

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27 replies
madcap.1 May 22 2014 at 2:42 PM

to those 50 senators , why dont you worry about the shape of our economy instead of this meaningless crap.
oh i forget for being a senator you get a pension and health care for life so why worry about the little people

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15 replies
JOHN STRINE May 22 2014 at 3:07 PM

Tell Harry Reid & the liberal democrats to kiss my ass. They should tend to the matters of the people like Bengazi, The IRS Scandal the VA Hospital debacle. Football should not be on his agenda. Reid is an ass and the other dems have SUPER GLUED their lips to his butt.

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45 replies
Chip May 22 2014 at 2:29 PM

What business is this of this pack of grandstanding SOBs?

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13 replies
phylsingleton May 22 2014 at 2:41 PM

This is just stupid. Anything to claim racism. People get over yourselves.

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19 replies
M T A May 22 2014 at 2:41 PM

Steal their land, send em on death marches, but DO NOT name a sports team after the purported color of their skin! Good going congressional jackasses.

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10 replies
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