Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 7:00 AM CST

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- As the U.S. Senate continues to evaluate voting rights legislation, sports leaders with West Virginia ties have sent a letter to Senator Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supporting the passage of much-needed, balanced legislation with proven safeguards for voter participation and election integrity.

The leaders signing the letter represent several generations of West Virginia's storied sports icons starting with Jerry West (WVU 1960), a basketball legend enshrined in both the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and the NBA Hall of Fame; Nick Saban, a native of Fairmont, WV, now the head football coach at the University of Alabama, whose exceptional career includes many national and conference records; Darryl Talley (WVU 1983), football All-American, member of the College Football Hall of Fame and NFL Pro Bowl player; and Talley's teammate Oliver Luck (WVU1982), member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, NFL player; and former WVU Athletic Director and Board of Governors member.

In their letter to Senator Manchin, the sports leaders emphasized that they "support your leadership in shaping legislation to secure our democracy by protecting election integrity, principled Presidential transitions and our national security during transitions."

The letter also stated: "We come from some of our Nation's most popular sports leagues, conferences and teams. Some of us have roots and shaped our lives in West Virginia, others followed very different paths and some of us have been rivals in sports or business. But we are all certain that democracy is best when voting is open to everyone on a level playing field; the referees are neutral; and at the end of the game the final score is respected and accepted.

So we are united now in urging Congress to exercise its Constitutional responsibility to enact laws that set national standards for the conduct of Federal elections and for decisions that determine election outcomes. We commend you for ensuring that such legislation rests on critical features of our Constitution. These guarantee that all Americans have an equal voice in our democracy and that Federal elections are conducted with integrity so that the votes of all eligible voters determine the election outcomes."

In addition to the West Virginia sports icons, the letter to Manchin was signed by Paul Tagliabue, the former NFL Commissioner, who has participated since retiring from the NFL in 2006 in a variety of pro and amateur sports initiatives, including those involving the use of stadiums and arenas as approved polling places in the 2020 elections.

Luck, a former executive with the NFL and the WVU Athletic Director during Manchin's term as Governor, and Tagliabue cooperated in framing the letter of support to Senator Manchin. "While some of us have been rivals and competitors in sports, business and other endeavors, we are united in our unwavering support for protecting our democracy," said Luck.

The letter, sent to Senator Manchin on January 13th, thanked him for his sponsorship of the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) and for his continuing commitment to the enactment of critically important voting/election legislation.

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SOURCE Paul Tagliabue

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