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Kaine, Warner not among Senate Dems pressuring NFL to change Redskins’ name

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(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.

“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 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.

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • M Keene

    The U.S. Senate? Those grandstanding blowhards need to work together to pass meaningful legislation. The naming of teams should be left up to the NFL, the fans, and the owners.

  • Liz

    I agree, M Keene. They aren’t even doing the job we elected them to do but instead are pandering to special interest groups in hopes of getting re-elected. Sad….

  • Laura

    I agree with the comments above and leave the name alone. Why now? People are so petty sometimes.

  • me

    Did not know Democrats were even allowed a dissenting thought
    or opinion, Thought they all worked in unison, as one mind,
    one thought, one opinion, one action, one Vote, one Organism.
    Shame this is their current, Exclusive Special Interest Topic
    of the Day when their government and this country is going to
    hell in a hand basket. And, of course, it is set up to cause more
    racial divide because they made it that way, deliberately.
    It is not the Indian Nations of America standing up before the
    American Public to voice this; its Racial Democrats.

  • dctony51

    This is a on-going-mess!!! Why is this even the Congress business. Drop this name change argument ; I feel its a team distraction, & the Congress, the media, & all who feels it’s racist needs to drop it. STOP IT!!

    • isso

      Apparently, IF it cannot be accomplished in ramrodding media
      matters nationwide affiliate networks; through the entertainment industrial complex with their “celebrities operatives”, or
      through law suit brought before specificially set up federal courts,
      Congress must push forth its Party Racism over , above, and
      before any and all others.

  • isso

    Apparently Congress is party’s last ditch effort. They have tried this
    in their media matters nationwide network, with their entertainment
    industrial complex and celebrity operatives and so now, Congress
    Appears the racial aspect is just as grievious be it a ball team or
    national government. Whose is more “correct”?

  • JOE

    There are millions of people still out of work, hundreds of thousands homeless , millions without health insurance, our borders being every minute of the day with illegals,our vetrans not being medically treated right, our infrstrcuture (roads) falling apart. Cant hte IDIOTS in DC work on that and leave a private business alone??????????????, It is none of their business what he Snyder calls his team, They the IDIOTS in DC need to start working on this country, I have made it a policy NOT to vote for any incumbent, we NEED chage in DC

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