NFL: Name presents 'respectful image'

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The NFL signaled Thursday it would not heed the call of 50 Democratic senators to support changing the name of the Washington Redskins. 

The Redskins name is not used by the NFL in any other context than to present a "strong, positive and respectful image," the league said after nearly every Democratic senator signed a letter addressed to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

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The league said it respects the opinions of those who view it differently, pointing out that that two senators from Virginia, where the team headquarters are located, did not sign on. 

"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 name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently."

In the past, Goodell has pointed to polling to show overwhelming support for keeping the name. He has also commended Redskins owner Dan Snyder for his outreach to Native American communities.

In their letter to Goodell, the senators said the NFL should follow the lead of the NBA, which recently banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racially insensitive remarks. [READ THE LETTER.]

"The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. We urge the NFL to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team," read the letter, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).