The Washington Redskins announced Monday that they will drop the team’s longtime name and Indian head logo immediately, bowing to decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) July 13, 2020
A new name must still be selected for one of the oldest and most storied teams in the National Football League, and it was unclear how soon that will happen.
The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once declared he would never get rid of the name, launched a “thorough review” amid pressure from sponsors and Democratic politicians in the District of Columbia.
FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.
The team said it is “retiring” the name and logo and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design.
Activists have long criticized the name as a “dictionary-defined racial slur,” although polling of Native Americans has found a majority don’t find the team’s name offensive.
Over a dozen Native leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.
Protests against the name predate Snyder buying the team in 1999, and, until now, he had shown no willingness to consider a change.
The pressure mounted amid the current wave of racial unrest and cultural upheaval following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Earlier this month, FedEx — a company run by Frederick Smith, a minority stakeholder of the team — became the first sponsor to announce it had asked the organization to change the name. FedEx also paid $205 million for the long-term naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland.
The lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and dropping the name keeps open various possibilities in Maryland, Virginia and Washington for the team’s new stadium and headquarters.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has said the name was an “obstacle” to Snyder building on the old RFK Stadium site, which is believed to be his preference.
D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio put it in sharper terms: “There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name.”
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also demanded the team change its name.
Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name. https://t.co/XTlIJrfNx4
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 2, 2020
Many Redskins fans were upset with the team’s announcement Monday.
And I’m done with whatever this abomination of a Football Team cones up with. My beloved Redskins have been ripped from me by this PC culture
— Frankie Satterfield (@Rdsknsfan3) July 13, 2020
We retire together!
— Ed Sheahin (@NFLPhotoGuy) July 13, 2020
Been a fan since 1983. I’m RETIRING from the Washington team.
— dogpit (@dogpit5) July 13, 2020
— Antonio Montiel (@TonoMontiel_II) July 13, 2020
Washington recently started cutting ties with founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.
Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved it to D.C. four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate his team.
The current logo shows the profile of a Native American warrior with feathers in his hair.
Long removed from the glory days of winning Super Bowl titles in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons under coach Joe Gibbs, Washington has just five playoff appearances in 21 years and no postseason victories since 2005.
The team has lacked a nationally marketable player since Robert Griffin III’s short-lived stardom, and the 2020 schedule features zero prime-time games for a franchise that used to be a draw.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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