50 US Senators Demand Washington Redskins Change 'Racist' Name

( [email protected] ) May 23, 2014 03:10 PM EDT

50 members of the Senate are calling for the Washington Redskins to change their team name to something less "racially charged."

The senators cite the NBA's no-tolerance policy regarding the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and asks the NFL to act under the same pretense, ESPN reports.

"The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises," the senators wrote in a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"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. It's time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team," the letter continues.

The U.S. senators join a long list of individuals who oppose the football's team name and mascot. Earlier this year, a coalition of two dozen clergy joined Oneida Indian Nation's "Change the Mascot" campaign, agreeing to speak out against the pro-football team from the pulpit, Religion News reports.

The Washington Redskins
Fifty US Senators along with a coalition of pastors are calling on the Washington Redskins to change their team name

"The derogatory term 'redskin' offends many Native Americans and others in this country," the campaign petition says in part. "This word, defined in the dictionary as a slur, should not be publicly marketed and celebrated in America, which is built on the ideals of respect and inclusion. As representatives of our faith communities, we believe that this is a moral issue and we therefore have an obligation to step forward to join the Change the Mascot movement."

However, Redskins owner Dan Snyder will hear none of it.

"We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER-you can use caps," he stated.

Yesterday, the NFL backed Snyder in its own response to the letter.

"We have not received the letter, but the NFL has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. "The intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The team name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently."

The Oneida Indian Nation, a tribe located in upstate New York, has also been supported in their efforts by The National Congress of American Indians, The Kansas City Star, the Washington City Paper, Slate, Bob Costas, and Peter King.