Fifty U.S. senators urged the National Football League on Thursday to rename the Washington Redskins, saying the name is a racial slur.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49 senators cited NBA's swift action to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for making offensive remarks about blacks.
"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. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team."
The letter-writing effort was was led by Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
A 50th senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, wrote his own letter to Goodell, saying that he does not believe that retaining the Redskins name "is appropriate in this day and age."
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been steadfast in his desire to never change the name despite mounting pressure from lawmakers and Native American activists.
The NFL has stood behind Snyder and released a statement of its own Thursday.
"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," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "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 NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently. The team name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently."
A copy of the letter can be seen below (via Deadspin):
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