Well, that didn’t take long.
Just a day after being bullied by local government officials and hit with growing pressure from various corporate sponsors to change the team’s name, the Washington Redskins have taken the preliminary steps to do just that.
“In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name,” the team said in a statement Friday. “This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.”
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) July 3, 2020
The statement was released amid a push from various corporate sponsors, including Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo, for the NFL franchise to drop the “Redskins” nickname. FedEx, which has its name on the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, put in a formal request for a team name change Thursday, according to ESPN.
The name “Redskins” has been a source of controversy for years now. The moniker, which has been in use since 1933, has been a divisive subject among football fans and non-fans alike.
Some feel the name is a racial slur against Native Americans, while others think the name honors their fighting spirit.
Of course, there are also those who simply don’t care, given that it’s merely a football team’s name.
In the team’s statement, team owner Dan Snyder said, “This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”
It is a stark reversal for Snyder, who purchased the Redskins in 1999. The 55-year-old team owner has long been resistant to any changes to the team name.
In 2013, he was emphatic about it, telling USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
“It’s just historical truths, and I’d like them to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor, respect,” Snyder told ESPN in 2014.
Snyder isn’t the only one who appears to have had a change of heart.
First-year Redskins head coach Ron Rivera has gone from noncommittal to proudly paving the way for a name change.
“It’s all about the moment and the timing,” Rivera said during an interview with WSCR-AM on June 29. “But I’m just somebody that’s from a different era when football wasn’t such a big part of the political scene. That’s one of the tough things, too, is I’ve always wanted to keep that separate.”
“People have wanted me to get in politics while I’m coaching and I keep telling them, ‘It’s not for me to get up there and influence people.’ I have my beliefs, I know what I think, I support the movements, support the players. I believe in what they’re doing. There are certain elements to certain things. It’s all about the timing and the best time to discuss those things.”
Now, Rivera seems eager to help pave the way for a potential name change.
In the team’s statement, he is quoted as saying, “This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”
That’s certainly a far cry from wanting to keep politics and football “separate.”
I’m native and I don’t have a problem with the name. I have a friends and family that are that fans, I think majority of natives don’t have a problem with it.
— ?J?anna? (@jojo880) July 3, 2020
In fact, it even appears the Redskins could lose fans over a potential name change.
Keep the name! I never thought I’d have to switch to another NFL team ? #HTTR
— Jeremy ??? (@jeremynunez44) July 3, 2020
I am truly sad I will no longer be a @Redskins fan! You are losing a fan base with crazy decision!
— dave boots (@big_daddy_boots) July 3, 2020
“We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind,” the team’s statement concluded.
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