Wyden, Merkley among 50 senators urging NFL to change Redskins' name

Wyden, Merkley among 50 senators urging NFL to change Redskins' name
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, May 22, 2014. They say racism and bigotry do not belong in professional sports. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON — Half of the U.S. Senate, including senators from Oregon and Washington, say 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.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., led the letter-writing effort. The letter was signed by 47 other democratic senators, including Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

All the senators who signed the letter are Democrats. Another, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., wrote his own letter urging the name change.

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.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has long refused to change the team's name.

Last month, Reid took to the Senate floor to say Snyder should "do what is morally right" and change the name. President Barack Obama and lawmakers from both parties have previously pressed for the name change.
   
The letter said tribal organizations representing more than 2 million Native Americans across the U.S. have said they want the Redskins name dropped.
   
Despite federal laws protecting their identity, "Every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C., football team mocks their culture," the senators wrote.
   
"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 said.