Washington NFL Team Retires Old Nickname, Logo; Developing New Name and Design

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2020

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02:  Team owner Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins watches during warm ups prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs  at Arrowhead Stadium on October 2, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Washington football team will no longer be known as the "Redskins" after owner Dan Snyder announced Monday the team will officially change its nickname. A new name has not yet been revealed.

The team announced in early July that it would undergo a thorough review of the name after internal discussions about a change:

Commissioner Roger Goodell said he had discussions with Snyder over several weeks and that the league is "supportive of this important step."

The change comes amid ongoing protests against racial injustice, which was spurred by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in police custody.

There was also a push after sponsors threatened to pull support for the team. According to Mary Emily O'Hara of Adweek, 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion sent letters to Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to sever ties with the team until the name was changed.

"We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name," FedEx wrote in a statement.

FedEx is a major team sponsor with naming rights to the stadium worth $205 million, while CEO Fred Smith is a minority owner of the team.

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PepsiCo also announced it was time for a change, while Nike responded by removing related products from its website:

Minority owners Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman also put pressure on Snyder by looking to sell their shares in the team worth about a 40 percent stake combined.

There has long been a call for the Washington team to change its name, which was considered racist to Native Americans. Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents over 500 Native American tribal nations, called it a racial slur in a June letter while urging players not to play for the team, per Andrew Beaujon of the Washingtonian.

"As long as that team name stands, players of conscience should sit at home rather than wear the NFL equivalent of the Confederate flag," Sharp wrote.

Over a dozen Native American leaders sent a letter to Goodell earlier this month calling for a change, noting the "serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples."

Despite the controversy, Snyder had been against changing the name since purchasing the franchise in 1999.

"We will never change the name of the team," the owner said in 2003, per Erik Brady of USA Today. "As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it's all about and what it means."

The franchise was initially called the Boston Braves upon its creation in 1932 before being changed to the Boston Redskins from 1933-36. The organization kept the name upon moving to Washington in 1937, and it stuck for over 80 years.

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