WASHINGTON — U.S. senators urged commissioner Roger Goodell to change the Redskins' name Thursday, saying it is racist.
In a letter, 49 senators cited the NBA's recent quick action to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments: "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."
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., wrote his own letter, saying he doesn't believe retaining the name "is appropriate in this day and age."
In response, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote that "diversity and inclusion" have long been a focus of the NFL: "The intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image."
Recently, President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups have urged the name change. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has refused, citing tradition. The franchise has been known as the Redskins since 1933, when it played in Boston.
All senators on the letter are Democrats. Jared Leopold, spokesman for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Republicans were not asked to participate. Cantwell later invited Republicans to sign the letter or write their own.
Democrats not signing were Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, site of the team's headquarters; Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Joe Donnelly (Indiana).
Broncos: An arrest warrant for safety T.J. Ward was issued. He was involved in a scuffle at a strip club May 9, Denver police said.
Jets: Running back Chris Johnson likely will miss next week's minicamp. He is recovering from January surgery for a torn meniscus.