WASHINGTON — Half of the U.S. Senate today urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell 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.