WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Washington franchise of the National Football League said on Monday that it will forego its “Redskins” name and Indian head logo.
- After getting mounts of pressure from sponsors, franchise team owner Dan Synder conducted a “name reviewal” before deciding to abandon the name and logo.
- Native American advocates and experts have long been against using the name and described it as “dictionary-defined racial slur.”
The National Football League (NFL) franchise team of Washington announced on Monday that it will immediately no longer use the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo. This ends decades of racial criticisms, particularly among Native Americans.
The decision came after the owner, Dan Snyder, who once said he would never drop the name, conducted a thorough review more than a week ago amid pressure from sponsors. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi, and Bank of America all requested to change its name, which was given to the franchise when it was still based in Boston in 1933.
Washington said it is “retiring” the name and logo, and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are closely working to come up with a new one.
Protests against the name date back to 1999 when Snyder bought the team. Until now, he does not show any signs of changing the name, not until one of the major sponsors who also happened to be a minority stakeholder of the franchise moved to change the name.
Earlier this month, FedEx was the first sponsor to declare that it requested the franchise to replace its name. The company’s CEO, Frederick Smith, owns part of the franchise. FedEx paid $205 million for the long-term naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland. The lease would expire in 2027.
The team has recently cut ties with its founder, George Preston Marshall, a known racial segregationist, as it removed his name from the Ring of Fame and renamed the lower bowl at FedEx Field with the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchel.
Experts and Native American advocates have long denounced the name, describing it as a “dictionary-defined racial slur.” Last week, over a dozen Native leaders and groups, sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, demanding an urgent end to the franchise use of the name. Goodell said that he supported the call.
Arguably, the most polarizing name in the North American professional sports is dropped amid recent nationwide protests against social injustice, racism, and iconography.