Letter to be sent to each NFL player

Updated: May 28, 2014, 11:05 AM ET
By John Keim | ESPN.com

The groups targeting the Washington Redskins' nickname want to enlist the help of NFL players, hoping they mimic one of their outspoken colleagues: Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

The National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation will be sending a letter to every NFL player, including recent draft picks, on Wednesday, urging them to get involved and follow Sherman's example as part of their Change the Mascot campaign.

"Just recently Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, one of the league's most high profile players, spoke out against the Washington, DC NFL team name," the letter states. "We are hopeful that other players in the league will follow his strong example and take a public stance against the Washington R*dskins."

Sherman recently told Time that he did not think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would act as decisively as NBA commissioner Adam Silver did in punishing Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments.

"Because we have an NFL team called the Redskins," Sherman said. "I don't think the NFL really is as concerned as they show. The NFL is more of a bottom-line league. If it doesn't affect their bottom line, they're not as concerned."

The letter combats one that Redskins president Bruce Allen sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday. Allen rebutted several claims by opposing groups, pointing out the origin of the name and polls that show support for it to remain the team's nickname.

"The Redskins team name continues to carry a deep and purposeful meaning," the letter said.

But the letter set to be sent Wednesday states, "The name does not honor people of color, instead it seeks to conceal a horrible segment of American history and the countless atrocities suffered by Native Americans."

Redskins players have been reluctant to speak out on the issue, although a handful of players tweeted out Allen's letter Friday, including linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. In their tweets, both players used the same message: "Bruce Allen sets the record straight" and a link to the letter.

Earlier this offseason, cornerback DeAngelo Hall said on FOX Sports that the name probably should change, only to alter his stance a few days later by saying it's not up to him to say what's right or what should be done.

Former Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said in an NBC Sports interview recently that, "I started feeling a little bit uneasy about it. Voiced my concern to general manager Bruce Allen, and suggested that Mr. [Dan] Snyder, the owner, should go and speak with some of the Native Americans, just to get their thoughts on it, to find out how they truly feel about the name."

And last June, Redskins Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green said the issue warranted a debate but clarified a few days later that they did not think the name should change.

The letter from NCAI and the Oneida Nation, though, will try to change the minds of current players. It is signed by 77 groups, including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League.

"Indeed, players are the most publicly identifiable representatives of the league, which means your support is critical to ending this injustice," the letter reads. "Your NFL should not be a place where any person is expected to sit by in silence while their heritage is so casually disgraced and condemned by this racial slur."

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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