(CBS Seattle) — The two U.S. senators from Washington are among 50 who have endorsed a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging the NFL to reconsider the Washington Redskins’ team name.
Both Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray believe the mascot for Washington, D.C.’s professional football is racist.
Cantwell, who has been one of the most prominent and loudest voices from Congress pushing for a change to the name, co-wrote and circulated a new letter to Goodell and the league, according to the Washington Post.
“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 reads. “We urge the NFL to formally support a name change for the Washington football team.”
Members of Congress used the NBA’s recent ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling as a way to illustrate how a professional sports league took action to combat racism.
“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.”
Sterling was caught on tape allegedly making racist comments about African-Americans earlier this month.
Absent from the letter were signatures from democrats Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner; Both congressmen represent Virginia, where the Redskins franchise is based. According to the Washington Post, an aide to Kaine said the senator supports a name change but had concerns about the tone of the letter submitted by Cantwell.
Warner previously stated he did not believe Congress should be involved in the dispute.
In February of 2014, Cantwell and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) wrote a separate letter to the NFL, calling the Washington mascot an “insult to Native Americans,” and requesting that the league re-examine the team name. Senior Vice President for the Washington Redskins franchise, Tony Wyllie, responded in a written statement:
“With all the important issues Congress has to deal with such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘Red People’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)