advertisement

50 senators to NFL: Change Washington team's racist name

Thursday, May 22, 2014 | 6:32 p.m. CDT
In this May 1, 2009, photo, Washington's Marko Mitchell puts his helmet on during their minicamp practice at their training facility in Ashburn, Va. Half of the U.S. Senate says it's time to change the name of the Washington team.

WASHINGTON — Half the U.S. Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday to change the Washington football team's 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 black people. They said Goodell should formally push to rename the Washington team.

"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.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, wrote his own letter saying he doesn't believe that retaining the Washington's team 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.

Washington team owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the name, citing tradition. The franchise has carried the same name since 1933, when it played in Boston.

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. Thursday's letters were aimed directly at Goodell.

In a written response, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said "diversity and inclusion" have long 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 their party's more moderate lawmakers.

The senators noted that tribal organizations representing more than 2 million Native Americans across the U.S. have said they want the team's name dropped.

Despite federal 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.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Skip Yates May 23, 2014 | 8:48 p.m.

Insane liberal politics. One doesn't haave to look at the list to know thhey have a "D" behind their name.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 24, 2014 | 1:09 p.m.

Whether it's national or in Columbia, Missouri (Missourian newspaper, as an example) you rail continually against others over just about anything, whether consequential or not. It must be a wonderful "feel good" exercise, and it saves ever having to confront your own lackluster to miserable performance when it comes to taking care of things for which YOU are clearly responsible.

To (again) quote from the "Pogo" 1950s comic strip: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." He most certainly is!

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements