In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the lawmakers said
the league should follow the example of the National Basketball
Association, which has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald
Sterling for life for bigoted remarks.
"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,Ē wrote the senators, all of them
Democrats or independents.
"Itís time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington,
D.C. football team."
The letter adds pressure on Dan Snyder, the Redskins' main owner. He
has defied calls from activists and journalists for 14 years to
change his team's name and Indian logo.
Native American groups have fought for the name change in court and
through advertising campaigns. Even President Barack Obama has
weighed in, saying that if he owned the team, he would consider
changing the name.
The letter was led by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and signed by 47 other
senators. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, sent a separate
letter to Goodell.
Goodell had said in January most football fans and Americans
supported the Redskins' keeping their name.
[to top of second column]
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the league had
not received the letter, but that the NFL has long shown a
commitment to progressive leadership on diversity issues.
"The intent of the teamís 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," he said.
A Redskins spokesman said the team had no response to the letter.
(Editing by Dan Grebler and Bernadette Baum)
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