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After release, NFL player says team logo is 'racist'

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A.J. Francis was born and raised in Washington, D.C., but the hometown kid apparently couldn’t wait to leave the Washington Redskins and get out of town.

Francis, a defensive lineman, was one of six players cut by the Redskins earlier this week as the roster was purged after the NFL draft.

Just days after being released, Francis found a new home within the division, signing with the New York Giants to help bolster their 26th-ranked run defense.

Francis certainly didn’t sulk after being released by Washington. Instead, he saw his release as an opportunity to leave a franchise that didn’t appreciate his services. Shortly after joining the Giants, Francis took to Instagram to take a shot at his former team.

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As Francis indicated in the caption, he is all smiles now that he is suiting up for a team that “pays attention to the film.” He also included hashtags with the two dates that the Giants and Redskins will play this season.

But the hashtag that really stood out is #AndYourLogoIsRacist, which is a dig at Washington’s controversial team name and logo.

Many Native American groups have pushed for the team to change its name and logo for years, but owner Dan Snyder has maintained that will never happen.

“We’ll never change the name,” Snyder told USA Today in 2013. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Do you think the Redskins' team name and logo is racist?

The Cleveland Indians have also come under fire for their controversial use of the Chief Wahoo mascot. MLB plans on abandoning the mascot starting in 2019, but the NFL hasn’t reached that stage yet where they are telling the Redskins what to do.

Francis calling out the Redskins likely won’t do much in the grand scheme of things, but the “Change the Mascot” campaign supported his sentiments.

“Change the Mascot thanks A.J. Francis for having the courage to state the obvious: the name and logo of the Washington NFL team for which he used to play is racist,” the organization said in a statement, according to ESPN.

“Nobody in America deserves to be the target of racial slurs, and Mr. Francis joins a respected group of professional athletes, civil rights activists, religious leaders, journalists and policymakers who have spoken out against the continued refusal of the team to treat people of color with respect.”

Francis had high hopes with Washington after playing in six games last season. On the first day of the NFL draft, the Redskins’ defensive line coach told him that he was expected to start in 2018.

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“Last Thursday, the day the draft was going to start, I had a meeting with (Washington assistant) Jim Tomsula, who is one of the best D-line coaches in the history of the league,” Francis said. “He told me that going into OTAs, he thought I should be the starting nose (tackle).”

But Washington then drafted two defensive tackles, including Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, who they chose in the first round.

That made Francis expendable to the Redskins, but still, he’s glad to be a member of the Giants, where he will push for snaps behind Damon Harrison as the Giants transition to a 3-4 defense.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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