50 Senators Tell NFL To Change Washington Redskins Team Name

Fifty senators are teaming up to call on the National Football League to change the team name of the Washington Redskins, declaring that “racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”

The senators wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and co-signed by 47 others — invoking the racist comments by NBA Clippers owner Donald Sterling as an opportunity for the NFL to follow suit and take action.

“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations,” the senators wrote. “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 Cantwell-Reid letter, dated May 21, was cosigned by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Walsh (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-CO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wrote separately to urge a change to the Redskins name.

Virginia Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D) were among the few Democrats who didn’t participate in the effort.

Letter to Commissioner Goodell on Washington Sports Team

Photo credit: Shutterstock / dean bertoncelj

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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