Redskins name controversy: 50 senators sign letter to Roger Goodell urging name change

Thursday May 22nd, 2014

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said members of tribal organizations "are not mascots." (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Senator Harry Reid said members of tribal organizations "are not mascots." (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Fifty senators signed a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to further consider changing the name of the Washington Redskins, according to a report from Carl Hulse and Elena Schneider of the New York Times. 

The letter, dated May 21, was sent in part because of the fallout from the racially insensitive comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. (A copy of the full letter is here.)

The message to the NFL, which was endorsed by Senator majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), was clear in its stance:

"The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team."

"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."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that the league has not yet received the letter but that the NFL "has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field," according to the Times. McCarthy added in the statement that the "intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image."

SI WIRE: Redskins owner to launch foundation for tribal communities

Washington owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said he will not change the name. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in March that the team should lose its trademark. The controversy has even made its way to the White House, with President Barack Obama saying that if he were Snyder, he would change the name.

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