Fifty U.S. Senators have sent a signed letter to the NFL urging them to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
The senators are all Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, who claimed to be a Native American while working at Harvard Law School.
The letter, addressed to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, cites the recent scandal over Clippers owner Donald Sterling as impetus to reexamine the Redskins name. Five Democrats did not sign the letter: Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. It was never circulated among Republicans to sign, reports the New York Times.
The letter begins, “We urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the N.B.A. did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.”
“We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team,” the senators write.
The letter was first conceived of by Sen. Maria Cantwell, but majority leader Harry Reid was the one who made it a priority.
“I have 22 tribal organizations in Nevada,” Reid told the Times. “They are not mascots. They are human beings. And this term Redskins is offensive to them.”
The NFL said they have yet to receive this letter, but team spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the NFL “has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field.”
“The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The name is not used by the team or the N.F.L. in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said he will not change the name.