LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has received a letter from 50 Senators urging the league to endorse a name change for the Washington Redskins.
“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 reads. “It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.”
The letter comes in the wake of the NBA’s decision to take action against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after he was caught on tape making racist remarks.
“Now is the time for the NFL to act,” the legislators wrote. “The Washington, D.C. football team is on the wrong side of history. What message does it send to punish slurs against African Americans while endorsing slurs against Native Americans?”
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has vowed to not change the Redskins name and refers to it as a badge of honor.
Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, did not sign the letter.
The Redskins have strong ties to Virginia with its team headquarters located in Ashburn and training camp being held in Richmond.
The team has received state funding in the past, including funds to pay a portion of a multi-million renovation of Redskins Park. The team also receives $500,000 annually from Loudoun County in exchange for marketing rights that permit the county to brand itself as the cooperate home of the Redskins, according to the Washington Post.
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the commonwealth was also interested in building a new stadium for the team when its current lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland expires in 2027.
Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin were among the lawmakers to sign the letter to Goodell.
The New York Times reports the letter was not circulated among Republicans.
“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. We urge the NFL to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team,” the letter concludes.
Download the full letter (PDF)