The Washington Redskins announced yesterday that they “will undergo a through review of the team’s name,” a day after FedEx urged them to change it.
In a statement, the team said the organization has held “initial discussions” with the league recently about the name.
“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 organisation, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” said team owner Dan Snyder, who has resisted previous appeals to drop the moniker, in a team statement.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement he appreciates Snyder’s willingness to listen.
“In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step,” Goodell’s statement read.
The Redskins play at FedEx Field, and the Memphis-based delivery giant wrote in a statement Thursday, as reported by multiple media outlets, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
The company owns the naming rights to the stadium in Landover, Md., under a 27-year, $205mn deal that went into effect in November 1999.
FedEx has another major tie to the Redskins, as its founder/chairman/CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner of the team.
Ron Rivera, in his first season as Washington’s head coach, said he will take part in the review.
“This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military,” he said.
“We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind,” the team’s statement concluded.
Calls for the club to dump the nickname have been made for decades, but a 2016 Washington Post poll of 504 Native Americans found that 90 % were not offended by the Redskins nickname. The poll included people in all 50 states and Washington, DC. In 2013, Snyder made his position on the matter clear, saying, “We’ll never change the name, it’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
The franchise began using the Redskins nickname in 1933, when it was based in Boston and previously called the Braves. Team owner George Preston Marshall moved the club to Washington in 1937.
A statue of Marshall was removed from the Redskins’ former Washington venue, RFK Stadium, on June 19 in the wake of protests seeking racial equality following the death of George Floyd. Under Marshall’s leadership, the Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate, adding their first Black players in 1962.
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