For years, the name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL team has been a hot-button issue. At the center of it: is the nickname Redskins offensive.
The Washington Post conducted a famous poll in 2016 that revealed that 90 percent of Native Americans are not bothered by the Redskins nickname. Nine percent found it offensive, while one percent had no opinion. A poll conducted in 2004 showed similar results, despite the debate returning to the public forefront before the most recent poll was taken.
Citing the Washington Post poll, team owner Daniel Snyder has shied away from the debate, wanting to leave the nickname and logo as-is.
The issue has had its ebbs and flows over the years, but the political climate in the spring and summer of 2020 and protests over racial injustice across the United States has brought this issue to a head. The difference this time is that in addition to protests by citizens, now corporate America is paying attention.
FedEx, which holds the naming rights for the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland through 2025, is calling for a change. Nike and PepsiCo have echoed FedEx’s sentiment. In addition, major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon have stopped selling the team’s merchandise.
This unprecedented pressure has led to action. A statement released by the team says, in part, “In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name. This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks,” the statement said. Both NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith are supporting this review.
It has led to the assumption that the team name will change, and possibly sooner than later. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that all Native American imagery will be removed. Another source told ESPN that the burgundy and gold color scheme will remain.
The timeframe of the change is now in question. Most team name and/or logo changes are processes that take one to two years from start to finish. When the Tennessee Titans changed their name from the Oilers in 1998 (the last NFL nickname change, by the way), the process took around a year. The Washington Bullets-to-Wizards transition took two years. The Tampa Bay baseball team changing names (Devil Rays to Rays), logos, and color schemes was a two-year endeavor.
But regardless of the details, for the first time, we can now say it’s only a matter of when – not if – the Washington NFL team will get a new nickname.
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