- The Washington Redskins will announce on Monday that they’re going to ‘retire’ the team nickname.
- The team has been under increasing pressure on a variety of fronts including FedEx, the title sponsor of the team’s stadium.
- A new name will not immediately be announced.
Washington’s NFL team has been known as the ‘Redskins’ since 1932. On Monday, they’ll announce that they’re retiring their long serving moniker. Reports indicate that a new nickname won’t immediately be announced as the franchise gets approval from the NFL and gets all of the necessary trademarks in place.
The controversy over the team name goes back several decades. The National Congress of American Indians was one of the first to object to a name that they consider a ‘racial slur’ against native people. The team has been steadfast in their refusal to rebrand until now. What appears to have finally turned the tide is the bottom line–they’ve been asked to change the name by several of their most prominent sponsors including FedEx, Nike and Bank of America. FedEx is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland–that cost them $205 million in 1999. In addition, FedEx CEO Frederik Smith is a minority owner of the Washington franchise. FedEx issued their statement in early July saying tersely:
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
Clearly $205 million buys a lot of consideration. Ultimately, the team realized they were fighting a losing battle after Nike and other companies removed Redskins swag from their online stores. Last week, the pressure was turned up even more as over a dozen Native American leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell demanding an immediate end to the ‘Redskins’ nickname. The letter said in part that they:
“expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples.”
Multiple sources say that the team will retain their iconic burgundy and gold colors. Since Washington, DC is the world’s primary source of war and violence you can expect the military to be involved somehow. There have been rumors that the new name will be ‘Warriors’ but that hasn’t been confirmed. What has been confirmed is that they’ll drop all Native American iconography.