Redskins to senators: Team’s name is ‘respectful’

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FILE – In this May 1, 2009 file photo, Washington Redskins Marko Mitchell puts his helmet on during their NFL football minicamp practice at their training facility in Ashburn, Va. Half of the U.S. Senate says it’s time to change the name of the Washington Redskins. Forty-nine Democratic senators wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, May 22, 2014. They say racism and bigotry do not belong in professional sports. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE – In this May 1, 2009 file photo, Washington Redskins Marko Mitchell puts his helmet on during their NFL football minicamp practice at their training facility in Ashburn, Va. Half of the U.S. Senate says it’s time to change the name of the Washington Redskins. Forty-nine Democratic senators wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, May 22, 2014. They say racism and bigotry do not belong in professional sports. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Redskins President Bruce Allen says in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the NFL team’s nickname is “respectful” toward Native Americans.

On Thursday, half the U.S. Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the Washington club’s name, saying it is a racist slur and it is time to replace it.

The franchise responded by releasing Allen’s letter Saturday. He says that “our use of ‘Redskins’ as the name of our football team for more than 80 years has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

The senators’ letters come at a time of growing pressure to change the name, with statements in recent months from President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.

Associated Press

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