In the wake of Donald Sterling's ouster from the NBA over racist statements, there's burgundy-and-gold blood in the water around Washington, D.C.
Fifty United States senators have signed a letter addressed to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking for an end to the Redskins team name, using the almost universal level of acclaim for NBA commissioner Adam Silver's actions as a springboard.
"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," read the letter, circulated by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) "It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team." (Read the complete letter here.)
Both senators from Maryland, home of the Redskins' stadium, signed the letter, but neither of the Virginia senators did. The New York Times indicated that the letter was not circulated among Senate Republicans.
"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 read. "We urge the NFL to formally support a name change for the Washington football team."
In response, the NFL issued its own statement indicating the league's own "commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field.” The statement reiterated the NFL's position: “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 N.F.L. in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has long maintained that he will never change the name. In recent months, he has formed a charity expressly designed to aid in Native American causes, though that move has drawn criticism for its perceived transparent motives.