50 senators to NFL: Change Redskins' racist name
WASHINGTON — Half the 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, including Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey of Scranton, cited the National Basketball Association's quick action recently to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life because he was heard in 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 were written at a time of growing pressure to change the team name, with statements in recent months from President 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.
The Steelers offered no comment on the situation, referring questions to the NFL offices.
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. The letters on Thursday were aimed directly at Goodell.
In a written response, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said “diversity and inclusion” long have 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 the party's more moderate lawmakers.
The senators noted that tribal organizations representing more than 2 million Native Americans across the United States have said they want the Redskins name dropped. Despite 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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ferrante trial: Doctor couldn’t figure out what made Klein so sick
- Pennsylvania chips in $2.5M for $38M boutique hotel in Pittsburgh
- Counterfeit credit card ring falls for failure to remember birth date on fake ID
- Predators winger Neal caught ‘blindsided’ by trade from Penguins
- Port Authority steps closer to linking Oakland and Downtown, makes switch from Highmark to Aetna
- Rossi: Middling Steelers must make a statement
- Arrest made in connection with Rostraver home invasion
- Monsour hospital properties sold at free-and-clear sale
- Steelers free safety Mitchell is still settling into role on defense
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Primanti Bros. to mail sandwiches nationwide