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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calls Redskins name 'unifying force'

Roger Goodell, in responding to members of Congress who want the name changed, says the Washington Redskins nickname is "unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."

Comes amid increased criticism of the team name's appropriateness

The Washington Redskins logo, as seen at midfield of their field in Landover, Md. (Nick Wass/Associated Press)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the Washington Redskins nickname is "unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."

Goodell was responding to a letter from 10 members of Congress who want the name changed because it is offensive to many Native Americans.

Goodell cited the nickname's origins and polls that support its popularity. He wrote that he understands the feelings surrounding it are complex and could change, but he also point out fan pride in the team's heritage.

The name is the subject of a legal challenge from a group seeking to have the team lose its trademark protection. Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never change the name. Teton High School in Driggs, Idaho, this week became the latest high school to drop the name.