May 22nd, 2014
12:31 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. robert

    REDSKINS! REDSKINS! REDSKINS! that means they would have to change the color of thier uniforms, helmets, logos, a business man – when you spend so much time and $$ branding your business – this just seems like the DEMS now aiming thier war on the rich towards team owners........why don't they pass a bill that says all people can use the "N" word not just a select population? Better yet, why don't the DEMS insist the the president do something! they talk about a do nothing congress – yet the president is a do nothing president – and when asked to address something – his excuse is " i did not know this was going on"......:-/

    May 22, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. much thunder...little rain

    boy cant wait for next big earth changing problem the senate democrats take on....changing professional sports teams name...are kidding me....ugh harry what joke you have made of the senate

    May 22, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    People call black people blacks and most of the players are black, and most of Washington DC is black so he should rename the team the Washington Blacks. It makes perfect sense.

    May 22, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |

    There is no guarantee that you will not ever be offended. We seem to think that if something ,anything, offends someone then it should not exist.

    May 22, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. if you ain't right, you ain't right

    This is the part of the left I don't care for, but will never vote Republican

    May 22, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Gradivus

    Perhaps after they cave, they can rename the team the Washington Kowtows. Oh, but then that's racist too, isn't it, because of the word's Chinese origin.

    Kowtow: to act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference.

    May 22, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC


    REDSKINS! REDSKINS! REDSKINS! that means they would have to change the color of thier uniforms, helmets, logos, a business man – when you spend so much time and $$ branding your busines
    Oh, I don't know about that. Both St John's University and Syracuse University managed to change their names and logos with too much trouble. In fact, they did it without having to change team colors, I might add. In fact, as businessman I'm sure that you would appreciate the boom in paraphernalia sales the schools experienced as the old stuff was sold out, and the new stuff was introduced.

    I'm surprised that a savvy businessman like yourself was unaware of any of this. Shocking that you didn't see the business potential to make a quick profit.

    May 22, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    This is t the business of Congress. Try cleaning up our financial mess you got us into before you try to tell someone else what THEY need to do.

    May 22, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. mannycl

    Apparently they don't have anything better to do but wasting taxpayers' money.

    May 22, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    I know. Let's call them the Washington Generals, and introduce a some new, trick plays.

    May 22, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. ED1

    I am offended that want to change their name forgot it's the Senate Democrats they just want to control everything we do.

    May 22, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Lizzie

    Yes, please take Washington out of the name

    May 22, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. bowldsbrendonbboi7581

    First, I totally think the name should be changed, but I don't know if 50 senators need to show up for this. Second, I'd like to see an outside consultant analyze the possible new jersey sells (if needed) from a new team name. I don't think they actually have to change the logo, but the name as I understand is offensive. Any way, I'm glad this mess may finally be over.

    May 22, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. m2014

    I so agree... the name The Washington Redskins is just WRONG! Let's call them The Redskins and drop the Washington part!

    May 22, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    Lizzie – " Yes, please take Washington out of the name "

    Good One!
    These days, association with Washington is much more offensive than the word 'Redskins'.

    May 22, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. it must be said

    Why are they not also attacking and forcing the CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS to change their name? Oh yeah, Obama's home town. And there are those racist CHICAGO WHITE SOX as well. Democrats better be consistent in their outrage and demands to change names.

    May 22, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. Fair is Fair

    They stink so bad they should just move to The Phillipines and be called The Manilla Folders.

    May 22, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. May I suggest a Name???

    OK, we will agree to change the name if we can rename the team the DC Democrat Dingleberrys..

    May 22, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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