The Washington Redskins on Friday announced the franchise “will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name” and that the move comes “in light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community.”
The statement from the Redskins added that the review “formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.”
Team owner Dan Snyder has said in the past that he’d never change the team’s name, but he struck a different tone in the team’s statement: “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.”
Adam Schefter, ESPN senior NFL insider, predicted on Twitter that “there’s no review if there’s no change coming. Redskins on way out.”
What’s the background?
As news hit this week that
elected officials would fight the Redskins from building a new stadium in Washington, D.C., unless the team changes its name, FedEx on Thursday became the first major corporate backer of the Redskins to request that the team change its name, the Washington Post reported.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a one-sentence statement Thursday afternoon, the paper said.
FedEx holds the naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, through 2026 under a 27-year, $205 million deal, the Post reported.
In addition, there’s no longer any sign of Washington Redskins’ items on Nike’s website — a significant development as Nike supplies the NFL with uniform and sideline apparel:
Image source: Nike.com screenshot
FedEx’s request came less than a week after a group of over 85 investment firms and shareholders representing $620 billion in assets called on FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo to break ties with the Redskins unless team owner Dan Snyder changes its name, the Post reported.
The long-running controversy over the Redskins name, considered offensive to Native Americans by some, is igniting once again in conjunction with protests and riots across the United States in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis police in May. Demonstrators have been pulling down and defacing statues and monuments of American icons they deem racist.
Washington, D.C., Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton specifically noted Floyd’s killing as she indicated she’d battle the Redskins from getting a new stadium in D.C. unless the team changes its name.
“I call on Dan Snyder once again to face that reality, since he does still desperately want to be in the nation’s capital,” Norton said. “He has got a problem he can’t get around — and he particularly can’t get around it today, after the George Floyd killing.”
Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio added that there is “no viable path, locally or federally” for a team with the name “Redskins” to call the district home.
The Post added that Snyder’s profit margin has been suffering as it is, with the Redskins playing poorly of late, which has resulted in unsold seats, a dwindling season ticket base, and fewer sales of luxury suites.