WASHINGTON (AP/WAVY) — Half of the U.S. Senate says it’s time to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
Forty-nine Democratic senators wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday. They say racism and bigotry do not belong in professional sports. The lawmakers say the NBA set a good example by banning L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after he was recorded making racist comments about blacks.
The senators’ letter never actually mentions the word “Redskins.” But it says the team name is nothing short of a racial slur.
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson wrote his own letter to Goodell requesting the change.
Politico reported Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) declined to sign the letter. WAVY.com reached out to both senators for information.
An aide in Sen. Kaine’s office said the senator had concerns about the tone of the letter, but has been publicly supporting a name change for months. Kaine also said the following during an interview with Brad Savage in Charlottesville:
“I’m not the owner so I’m not the one making the call but there’s a good example of an owner for a pro-sports franchise that everybody loved here in Washington, Abe Pollin, and at some point he decided Washington Bullets might be a good name and that was the team name for a while. They called themselves ‘faster than a speeding bullet.’ But Abe Pollin was an enlightened owner who decided that a name that was okay in the past, now was not okay. And I’m not the owner, but if I were the owner I think I’d make the decision to find a better name.”
An aide in Sen. Warner’s office issued the following statement:
“Senator Warner believes that it’s not for Congress to dictate what the league does. He believes that over time, team names will change to reflect the times, as happened with the Washington Wizards.”
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has long refused to change the team’s name.