May 22nd, 2014
12:31 PM ET
4 months ago

Senate Dems pressure NFL to change Redskins’ name

(CNN) – Invoking the heated racial controversy triggered by basketball’s Donald Sterling, the U.S. Senate has stepped up pressure on the NFL to force the Washington Redskins to change their name.

Fifty senators, all Democrats, have signed a letter released on Thursday by Majority Leader Harry Reid that urges pro football’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, to take action over concerns that continued use of the Redskins brand is offensive to Native Americans.

They want Goodell to follow the lead of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who this month took tough measures against Sterling after the longtime owner of the league’s Los Angeles Clippers was recorded making comments offensive to African Americans.

Donald Sterling in CNN exclusive: I'm not a racist, I'm a giver

“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,” the letter said.

“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by all but five of the chamber’s Democrats. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both of Virginia, where the team trains and maintains its corporate offices, did not sign the letter. Its home stadium is in Maryland.

Reid has previously said the NFL should demand Redskins owner Daniel Snyder "remove this degrading term from the league."

Snyder opposes a name change, vowing to keep it against both public and congressional pushback.

He contends the name, which the team’s had for 80 years, is part of a tradition important to fans.

Responding Friday to the senators' letter, Redskins President Bruce Allen invited Reid to a game to "witness first-hand that the Washington Redskins are a positive, unifying force for our community in a city and region that is divided on so many levels."

Responding to the Senate letter, the NFL said it has “long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership” on diversity.

“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 league statement said.

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

The latest: Report: NBA says Donald Sterling asked V. Stiviano to lie


Filed under: Senate Democrats • Washington D.C.
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. CryBabies

    I believe that calling the Presidents residence "The White House" is racist. Lets get moving on this right away!

    May 22, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. hammerhead

    sounds like democrats...just do your job...leave this to the owner...why don't you spend time fixing health care,the va,social security....no wonder this country is in the shape its in now...ah yes the political correct democrats ...get a life and stay out of ours

    May 22, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Loaunne Miller

    Just change the name to the Washington Warriors, keep the logo and move on.

    May 22, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Tommy G

    The Democrats War on Sanity continues unabated.... Honestly, just more smoke and mirrors designed to deflect from all of their failures and to add to the divisiveness. Democrats will not be happy until every American is at war with his neighbor over some stupid made up topic like this one. Democrats must really hate this country to constantly start this type of nonsense.

    May 22, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. smith

    If the GOP is smart they won`t touch this issue. Read between the lines and you can clearly see whats going on here.

    May 22, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    @hammerhead
    sounds like democrats...just do your job...leave this to the owner...why don't you spend time fixing health care,the va,social security....no wonder this country is in the shape its in now...ah yes the political correct democrats ...get a life and stay out of ours
    -----------
    "spend time fixing health care,the va,social security" – you mean the programs the GOP hates?
    "get a life and stay out of ours" – like when the Dems restrict who you can marry? Oh that wasn't the Dems.

    May 22, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @hammerhead
    ...get a life and stay out of ours

    Our ironic, President Bush's henchmen forced the ""Patriot Act" down our throats and now the NSA is totally in our lives. Where was the outrage then and now? Oh, he was a Republican and white... I get it.

    May 22, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. rick3807

    Just one more opportunity to make headlines rather than do something of substance. I would suggest that they have other items they should be dealing with.

    May 22, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Thomas

    It dose say a lot about Brand name , and the American Indian Red Skin Logo brings out the vast sense of freedom our for Fathers showed the Native Americans in there vision of Nation wide casinos .

    Brought to you by Andrew Jackson and the Friends of the Cherokee ?

    May 22, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Dead Bear

    Too bad the senators can't compel Daniel Snyder to change the team into a winner. All the money in the world and they're still awful.

    May 22, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Dead Bear

    @hammerhead... Are you aware that the name you are using on here is the same term given to crystal meth addicts?

    May 22, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @rick3807
    Just one more opportunity to make headlines rather than do something of substance. I would suggest that they have other items they should be dealing with.

    Like Republican obstructionism?

    May 22, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. just asking

    hey, senate democrats and useless harry reid have to do something to make it look like they are actually doing something since harry reid has blocked any real business from being conducted for two years now. it is why it is vitally important that democrats be removed from control of the senate. can we afford 4 years of their obstructionism and harry reid's attacks on americans?

    May 22, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    The way my Atlanta Falcons played last year, they should change their name. They are an embarrassment to real Falcons. Actually, they would be an embarrassment to a sparrow.

    Seriously, I guess the dems figure anything productive they try to do in Congress will be blocked, so they might as well make news with some feel-good moves.

    May 22, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. dannytelevision

    It needs to change, it will change eventually. We must do it now and get it behind. Lets not drag our feet...as in the Republican way of obstruction.

    May 22, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Tony D

    What next??? Will the Democrat's demand that Disney rename Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Snowy and the Seven Little People? Democrats are turning their party into a laughing stock with this idiocy while many in this country struggle to survive the Obama jobless economy and stagnant economy.

    May 22, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Would America accept a team named the "The Paleskins"? Somehow, I don't think so.

    It just might be a good business opportunity to rename the team, anyway. Imagine all of the extra paraphernalia with the old name and logo that would be sold. And then, all of the paraphernalia that wold be initially sold with a new name and logo. At the very least, that would help offset the expenses of making the switch

    May 22, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Other Pressing Democrat Agenda Items

    Democrat also demand to rename:

    Chicago White Sox to Chicago Lederhosen
    Green Bay Packers to Green Bay Boxers
    Boston Red Sox to Boston Nylons
    New England Patriots to New England Chowdahs
    Dallas Cowboys to Dallas Cow People
    New Orleans Saints to New Orleans Nondenominationals

    Stay tuned, more to follow....

    May 22, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Would You Look at That

    With all of the problems in our country, our U.S. Senate is worried about this? I want a refund.

    May 22, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    smith wrote:

    If the GOP is smart they won`t touch this issue. Read between the lines and you can clearly see whats going on here.
    -------------------------------
    I don't see anything between the lines. What are you implying? Some grand conspiracy theory to keep feeding Republicans red meat until their arteries are clogged?

    May 22, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. ProudDem

    I dont think this is an issue for politicians, but I honestly dont get the counter argument here. Clearly the name offends a large swath of the population, so why wouldn't you change it? It's just a sports team name, what's the problem?

    May 22, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. old age voter

    this is too funny all you people and those in the Senate need to get a life and get a job or do your job.

    May 22, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Tony D

    ProudDem
    I dont think this is an issue for politicians, but I honestly dont get the counter argument here. Clearly the name offends a large swath of the population, so why wouldn't you change it? It's just a sports team name, what's the problem?
    -–

    Who says it offends a large swath of people? I haven't seen any large demonstrations by Indians, oopps Native Americans, or is it more accurately Migratory Americans?

    The problem with changing it is a surrender to this PC Correct Madness that is infecting this country with its cancer of divisiveness. It will not end with this renaming. There will be more and more demands by more whack jobs that find everything to be an insult.

    Time to make a stand. ENOUGH PC BS!!

    May 22, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Patrick

    The Redskins have been around since the 1930s. Where was all the uproar over the name for the last 80 years?

    May 22, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Rick McDaniel

    Ya know, I actually don't like the use of the name, as it is a racial slur, but I am so FED UP with the PC mentality, I would be willing to tolerate leaving the name, just to tick off the stupidity of the PC mentality.

    May 22, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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