Washington Redskins officially drop 'racist' name

BREAKING: Washington Redskins officially drop 87-year-old ‘racist’ name after FedEx threatened to end $205million stadium sponsorship deal

  • Washington’s NFL team will get rid of the name ‘Redskins’ on Monday, but the 87-year-old franchise is not yet ready to announce its new moniker 
  • Team launched a ‘thorough review’ of the name July 3 that the NFL supported
  • That came in the aftermath of prominent sponsors FedEx, Nike, PepsiCo and Bank of America asking the team to change the name
  • Nike and other companies pulled team gear from their online stores
  • Over a dozen Native American leaders wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to the name
  • Fans have floated several alternatives, many of which were trademarked by a man named Philip McCaulay, who presumably intends to sell a name to the team

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.

A new name must still be selected for one of the oldest and most storied teams in the National Football League, and it was unclear how soon that will happen. But for now, arguably the most polarizing name in North American professional sports is gone at a time of reckoning over racial injustice, iconography and racism in the US.

The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once declared he would never get rid of the name, launched a ‘thorough review’ amid pressure from sponsors. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.

Washington’s NFL team will get rid of the name ‘Redskins’. The team is pictured in uniform during a game against the New York Giants in December

FedEx threatened to pull its name off the Washington Redskins stadium in Maryland if the professional football team does not change its name, deemed by Native American groups and others as racist. Pictured is FedExField, home of the Redskins

The team said it is ‘retiring’ the name and logo and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design.

Native American advocates and experts have long criticized the name they call a ‘dictionary-defined racial slur.’ Over a dozen Native leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington´s use of the name. Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.

Protests against the name predate Snyder buying the team in 1999, and, until now, he had shown no willingness to consider a change. Strong words from sponsors – including a company run by a minority stakeholder of the team – changed the equation.

FedEx earlier this month became the first sponsor to announce it had asked the organization to change the name, particularly important because CEO Frederick Smith owns part of the team. FedEx also paid $205 million for the long-term naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland.

The lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and dropping the name keeps open various possibilities in Maryland, Virginia and Washington for the team’s new stadium and headquarters. District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser has said the name was an ‘obstacle’ to Snyder building on the old RFK Stadium site, which is believed to be his preference.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, pictured center, previously said he wouldn’t be open to a name change but now it appears he is set to ‘retire’ the name

A man, Philip Martin McCaulay has registered trademarks for eight possible new team names

One common suggestion among fans on social media has been the Redwolves or Red Wolves

FedEx, whose CEO Frederick W. Smith is a minority owner in the team, and other corporate sponsors had been mounting pressure on Snyder to make the name change

The team has hinted it would like to honor the US military with the name change in some way

Fans have floated several options, including the Red Wolves and the RedTails, the latter of which refers to the Tuskegee Airmen who flew for the US Air Force in World War II. 

A man named Philip Martin McCaulay has already registered trademarks for the RedTails, Red Wolves, and several other possibilities, which could explain why Snyder’s team was not yet ready to announce a new team name on Monday. 

Washington recently started cutting ties with racist founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved it to D.C. four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate their team. The current logo shows the profile of a red-faced Native American with feathers in his hair.

Long removed from the glory days of winning Super Bowl titles in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons under coach Joe Gibbs, Washington has just five playoff appearances in 21 years and no postseason victories since 2005. The team has lacked a nationally marketable player since Robert Griffin III´s short-lived stardom, and the 2020 schedule features zero prime-time games for a franchise that used to be a draw.

Re-branding with a new name and logo – and perhaps the same burgundy and gold colors – coupled with turning football operations over to Rivera could be a boon for Snyder on and off the field. Even if a segment of the fan base opposes the change in the name of tradition, winning would more than make up for those losses.

One user suggested the team switch their name to the Washington Redwolves

One Twitter user suggested that other teams such as the Dallas Cowboys might consider a name change also

Some online users were not happy and the impending name change of the Redskins

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