After years of pressure and controversy, it seems that the Washington Redskins are bound to change their name. It was reported that the team has launched a thorough review of the name.
The name Redskins is widely seen as a racial slur against Native Americans, and critics believe that it is time for the Washington NFL team to change the name.
Team owner Daniel Snyder previously stated that he would not change the name, but softened his statement after sponsors and Native American groups mounted pressure about changing the name. With the racial crisis that America is facing, the owner believed that changing the name would be more beneficial for them as well as the league.
On June 26, multiple investment firms urged sponsors FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo to terminate their relationships with the team unless it changed the name.
The title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium, FedEx, wanted the NFL team to change its name. “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement.
FedEx paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights, and the CEO of the company, Frederik Smith, became a minority owner of the team. Amid the national debate of race, they have been pressured to abandon the so-called “dictionary-defined racial slur” name. Investors took the chance to contact the company and kindly requested a change, and FedEx took immediate action.
Following FedEx’s announcement, PepsiCo stated that it welcomed Snyder’s call for a review of the team’s name. The company believes that it is time for a change and is pleased to see the effort put into changing the name as they look forward to a continued partnership.
Nike, another major sponsor, pulled all Redskins merchandise from its online store on Thursday. The team’s section was deleted from the list of NFL teams. After Snyder called for a review of the name, Nike was pleased to see that the team was trying to make a change.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also supported Washington’s owner’s move to change the name.
Racism in American History
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many monuments have fallen, and names have been changed in the sports industry.
The statue of former Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, who worked against racial integration and did not believe all men and women were created equal, was removed from RFK Stadium. Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins also removed a statue of former owner Cavin Griffith because of a racist comment he made decades ago.
Recently, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from all races, as many see it as a symbol of slavery and oppression. The PGA also plans on changing the name of the Horton Smith Award as the former PGA president supported a Caucasian-only membership clause.
Potential New Names
Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports have come up with some options for new names for the Washington NFL team. Americans/Warriors, Red Tails, Hogs, and Bravehearts are all examples of the potential names that the team could come up with.
While Washington would become the first NFL team to change names in this century, they are not the first franchise to do so. Over a fourth of the NFL’s teams have changed names at some point during their existence.
The Washington Redskins were previously the Boston Braves. The franchise renamed to the Redskins in 1933, four years before the team moved from Boston to Washington, and Native-American players requested a change to the name. One of the AFL’s first team, the Dallas Texans moved the franchise to Kansas City and changed their name to the Chiefs.
The Decatur Staleys became the Chicago Bears, the Houston Oilers changed to Tennessee Titans, New York changed names from the Titans to Jets, and the Detroit Lions were formerly the Portsmouth Spartans.