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Inside the Beltway

Washington politics and government with a New Mexico flavor

Udall, Heinrich sign letter asking NFL to push Redskins name change

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New Mexico’s U.S. senators are among 50 lawmakers from the upper chamber of Congress who have signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to push the Washington Redskins to change the franchise’s name.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both New Mexico Democrats, signed the letter stating that “racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”

“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.”

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has staunchly refused to change the franchise’s name, arguing that it honors – not demeans – Native Americans.

According to the New York Times: N.F.L. officials said they had not received the letter. But a league spokesman, Brian McCarthy, provided a statement saying the league “has long demonstrated a commitment to progressive leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion, both on and off the field.”

“The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image,” the statement said, according to the Times. “The name is not used by the team or the N.F.L. in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”

I wrote about this issue two weeks ago, quoting Kevin Washburn, the nation’s highest ranking Indian affairs official and a former UNM Law School dean, as saying the name “hurts feelings” and should be dropped. Read that column here:

http://www.abqjournal.com/398056/politics/a-football-teams-name-should-not-offend.html

You can read the senators’ letter here.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/05/22/sports/football/22redskins-letter.html

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