Half the US Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today to change the Washington Redskins' name, saying it is a racist slur and the time is ripe to replace it. In one letter, 49 Democratic senators cited the NBA's quick action recently to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after he was heard on an audio recording making offensive comments about blacks. They said Goodell should formally push to rename the Redskins. Just five Democrats did not sign the letter.
"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," reads the letter, which did not use the word "Redskins." Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, wrote his own letter saying he doesn't believe that retaining the Redskin name "is appropriate in this day and age." He described himself as "one of your great fans for both the game and you personally." A spokesperson for Sen. Maria Cantwell, who led the letter-writing effort along with Harry Reid, said Republicans were not asked to participate, but Cantwell later said on the Senate floor that she was inviting Republicans to sign the letter or write their own. (Read more Washington Redskins stories.)