U.S. Senators urge NFL team’s name change

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D)

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico’s U.S. senators want an NFL team to change its name. They’re part of a group of senators asking the Washington Redskins to re-think the name, calling it a racial slur. They say the NFL should learn from how the NBA handled the Donald Sterling scandal.

Forty-nine senators signed off on a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, urging him to push to rename the team to show “that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”

The Redskins name controversy has been going on for years.

Owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team’s name and Goodell has defended him.

“Ninety percent of Redskins fans support the name. They believe it’s something that demonstrates pride and the general population also supports it overwhelmingly,” Goodell said in a March 2014 press conference.

Tribal organizations have been very vocal about the Redskins’ name. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) says it’s their opinion that matters.

“The term really does conjure a caricature of what it means to be tribal and I don’t think it’s a positive one,” Heinrich said. “I think it’s past time for the team to change its name.”

Both Heinrich and Tom Udall signed the letter, echoing a vote last month by the Navajo Nation’s council to officially oppose use of the Redskins name.

“The reason why people follow the franchise is because they play well, not because of this name,” Heinrich said.

The letter never actually uses Redskins, instead referring to the team as the “Washington, D.C. football team.”

Republican senators weren’t asked to sign the letter.

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