The fight over whether the Washington Redskins should change their name is reaching the highest levels of the U.S. government.
The New York Times obtained a copy of a letter sent on behalf of 50 United States senators to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, urging him to “endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.”
The letter is in part inspired by the recent controversy sparked by racist remarks from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The NBA acted swiftly in its punishment of Sterling, and commissioner Adam Silver is working to get Sterling out of the league.
The senators want similar action in regards to the Redskins.
“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations,” the letter reads. “We believe this is an opportunity to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises.”
Nevada senator Harry Reid endorsed the letter, which is his latest action in a continued attempt to get the name changed.
“I have 22 tribal organizations in Nevada,” he told the Times. “They are not mascots. They are human beings. And this term ‘Redsksins’ is offensive to them.”
According to The Times, the NFL has yet to see the letter, but the league did release a statement through league spokesman Brian McCarthy.
“The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image,” the statement reads. “The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”