Washington Redskins Will Abandon Controversial Name And Logo

July 13, 2020 by Gaspard Le Dem
Signs for the Washington Redskins are displayed outside FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Monday, July 13, 2020. The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday that it will drop the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo immediately, bowing to decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON – After mounting pressure from activists, sponsors, and politicians, Washington’s NFL franchise announced on Monday that it would drop its controversial name, “The Redskins”, and start working on redesigning its logo.

“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,” said a statement published on the team’s website. 

The team did not hint at a replacement for the name, which has been in use since 1933, though it said it would look to “enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise.”

For half a century, advocates have called on the team to switch its name, which is widely considered a racial slur against Native Americans.

Dan Snyder, the team’s owner since 1999, had until recently vehemently opposed the move, denying the name had racist connotations. “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER––you can use caps,” he told USA Today in 2013.

But the push to dump the name intensified in recent weeks following nationwide protests against racial inequality that erupted in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Eventually, major team sponsors like Nike and FedEx, which owns the franchise’s home stadium, asked Snyder to change the name, and the team announced a “thorough review” on July 3.

Native American leaders also joined in, dispelling Snyder’s argument that indigenous people did not take offense to the name. In a letter to the NFL, more than a dozen indigenous tribes urged the league to change the name and remove all indigenous imagery from the team’s branding. 

“[W]e expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples,” the letter said.

The debate also crept into national politics earlier this month when President Trump criticized the team for considering the move. “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s non-voting congressional delegate, has repeatedly vowed to block the team, which currently plays at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., from moving back to the District of Columbia until it changes its name. “The name has cost Snyder far more than it could possibly be worth,” Norton said in a statement last month.

Snyder is reportedly hoping to move the team back to the site of the old RFK stadium, which has fallen into disrepair since the team abandoned it after its 1996 season. 

His efforts to move back to the District have been opposed by local leaders, though he has gained some traction with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. In 2018, Bowser launched the construction of a new football stadium at RFK, hinting that she would like to see the team move back in. 

Moving forward, it’s still unclear how the team will rebrand itself, though several ideas have been floated over the years. Previously, Snyder had toyed with the idea of renaming the team The Washington Warriors, but missed the opportunity to trademark the name last year, according to The Washington Times.

In 2013, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso proposed renaming the team the “Washington Redtails” in honor of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, a group of World War II pilots who became the first African Americans to fly in the U.S. Army. That trademark, however, is already taken.

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