Washington's NFL Team Announces Name Change
The Washington Redskins are officially a team of the past. The NFL organization announced Monday that it is retiring its name and logo. This comes after a review was launched July 3 due to a recent financial push from the team's sponsors and after a decades-long legal battle over their name.
"[Owner] Dan Snyder and Coach [Ron] 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 statement reads.
The news of the name change was first reported Sunday night by Sports Business Daily. The publication says that the announcement of the new name is awaiting trademark processing.
Earlier this month, FedEx asked the franchise to change the team name. FedEx holds the naming rights to the stadium where the team plays and company CEO Fred Smith is a minority owner for the franchise. This came along with a series of letters calling for key sponsors to withdraw support for the team and a motion by Nike to remove Redskins apparel from its website.
Besides the financial pulls to change the name, the recent racial tensions due to the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police might have contributed to the pressure to pull the moniker now.
According to a history of "Redskins" by the Washington Post, the term was identified as first being used with a negative connotation toward Native American people in 1863 and three decades later was officially declared "contemptuous" by Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. The NFL teas was first approached by Native American leaders to change the name in the 1970s and have faced several legal battles over their trademarks.
The Boston Braves became the Redskins in 1933 and then moved to Washington, D.C. in 1937. The franchise has three Super Bowl titles to its name as well as two previous championships. They have 32 players, coaches and contributors enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame including quarterback Sammy Baugh, head coach Joe Gibbs and cornerback Champ Bailey. They lost star defensive back Sean Taylor when he was murdered in 2007 after only four seasons in the league. The Redskins were also home to the Hogettes, a famous group of fans who wore pig snouts, wigs and dresses to games and also raised money for charity. The group retired in 2013 after nearly 30 years of dedication.
This is not the first time the nation's capital has dealt with a name change for one of its professional sports teams. In 1995, Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin announced that he would be changing the NBA team's name amid violence, turmoil and racial tensions, ushering in the era of the Washington Wizards.