NFL to senators: Redskins name presents 'positive and respectful' image
May 23, 2014 — 5:17pm
The NFL has rebuffed an effort by fifty U.S. senators, including Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, to pressure the Washington Redskins to change the team’s name and logo.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week, the lawmakers said the franchise's name was a racial slur and that the league should follow the example of the National Basketball Association, which has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for bigoted remarks.
"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,” wrote the senators, all of them Democrats or independents. "It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team."
Team owner Dan Snyder has resisted calls from Native American groups and lawmakers, including Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, to change the team name. Thus far, the NFL has stood by Snyder -- and the team name.
"The intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The team name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in response to the Senate letter.
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A decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins' team nickname is a "victory for decency," said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
A letter signed by dozens of Native American, civil rights and religious organizations will go out to more than 2,700 NFL players today asking them to speak out against a name that "does not honor people of color."