Washington Redskins to change name amid internal review, external pressure

The Washington Redskins will retire the Redskins moniker and logo after 87 years, according to a press release Monday.

The Redskins conducted a review of the name beginning July 3 as minority owners looked to sell stakes and national retailers pulled merchandise, according to respective reports from The Washington Post and USA Today. FedExField, which has owned the naming rights to the Redskins’ home stadium for more than two decades, also called on the team to change the name, Washington Business Journal reported.

“Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition-rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years,” the team announced in the release.

Forty percent of the team’s ownership group – composed of NVR Inc. Chairman Dwight Schar, Black Diamond Capital CEO Robert Rothman and FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick Smith – sought to sell their stakes in the franchise, The Post reported July 5. The trio were “not happy” being partners with Snyder, the team’s majority owner, sources close to the deliberations told The Post.

Investors from sponsors like FedEx, Nike and Pepsi also penned letters to the companies asking them to cut ties with the team unless it agreed to change its name, Adweek reported earlier this month.

FedEx, which called on the franchise to lose the name and logo July 2, released a statement to NBC Sports Washington Monday in approval of the team’s decision to abandon the Redskins moniker.

“We appreciate the team’s decision to change its name and logo, and we look forward to the outcome of the next step in the process,” the statement said.

Nike pulled all Washington Redskins merchandise from its website and no longer lists the franchise under the NFL team filter, USA Today reported. Walmart also wrote in a tweet July 3 that it will stop selling items that “reference the team’s name and logo.”

The team’s moniker – first used by Native Americans to differentiate themselves from White settlers but adapted into a derogatory slur over the decades – has sparked controversy for decades. Fifteen Native American advocates most recently signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month calling on the NFL to force Snyder to change the Redskins’ name, The Associated Press reported.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer released a statement calling Monday a “historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world.”

“This change did not come about willingly by the team’s owners, but by the mounting pressure and advocacy of Indigenous peoples such as Amanda Blackhorse, and many other warriors who fought long and hard for this change,” the two wrote in the statement.

The statement outlined the “tragic and disgusting history” associated with the term “redskins” and proposed a new name – the Washington Code Talkers – that “honors and respects” Indigenous Americans.

“Renaming the team ‘Code Talkers’ to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II, would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples,” Nez and Lizer wrote.

The team has yet to announce a new name or logo for the franchise.

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