Fifty Democratic Senators signed a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday to pressure the Washington Redskins to change their team name — a move that like many actions of the U.S. Senate should have no political effect.
The letter, obtained by The New York Times specifically calls the name a "racial slur," and compares the speed with which the NBA took action against racist remarks from Clippers owner Donald Sterling to the NFL's continued support of the racist name.
"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, DC. football team."
The missive is important symbolically for the force of the letter and its number of supporters. "Listen, it is hard to get 50 people in this place to agree on anything," Sen. Maria Cantwell said. That means that if a vote in the U.S. Senate held any power over Daniel Snyder (which it doesn't), a majority of Senators probably support changing the name.
The letter was only circulated among Democratic Senators, and though many conservatives see the name change as a case of political correctness run amok, there may have been support among Republican leaders who didn't sign. Sen. John McCain said earlier this month that if he were the team's owner, "frankly I would probably change the name."