Senator Urges NFL to Follow NBA, Change Redskins' Nickname

Harry Reid says it's time for commissioner Roger Goodell to mandate different name for Washington's football franchise.

Posted: 05/01/2014 11:03 AM EDT

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took notice of how NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million for making racist comments.

Now, Reid is urging Silver’s NFL counterpart, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to follow suit by mandating the renaming of the Washington Redskins, a team with a nickname that many have labeled racist through the years.

"Commissioner Silver and the NBA leadership have set the standard for how a professional sports organization should act in the face of racism," Reid told ABC News on Wednesday. "How long will the NFL continue to do nothing, zero, as one of its teams bears the name that inflicts so much pain for Native Americans?"

In late March, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder founded the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to aid Native Americans and once again vigorously defended the franchise’s nickname as he has done throughout the years despite criticism from fans and media alike that the name is derogatory and flat-out racist.

To that end, Reid isn’t buying Snyder’s attempt of keeping the Redskins’ tradition.

"It is untoward of Daniel Snyder to try to hide behind tradition," Reid continued telling ABC News. "Tradition? That's what he says in refusing to change the name of the team. Tradition? What tradition? A tradition of racism is all that name leaves in its wake. Mr. Snyder knows that in sports the only tradition that matters is winning, so I urge Daniel Snyder to do what's morally right and remove this degrading term from the league by changing his team's name.

"Since Snyder fails to show any leadership, the National Football League should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack,” Reid added. "It would be a slam dunk. For far too long, the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated."

When Snyder launched the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation in late March he mentioned that team will continue to honor Native American groups.

"For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved," Snyder said at the time. "As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions. We commit to the tribes that we stand together with you, to help you build a brighter future for your communities."

With the splashy off-season signing of explosive but controversial wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the Redskins will begin their 2014 season against the Houston Texans on Sept 7.

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(Photos from left: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, NFL)

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