The Washington Redskins said Friday that the team will “undergo a thorough review” of its name, which is considered a derogatory term by Native Americans.
This comes a day after FedEx, the sponsor of the team’s stadium in Prince George’s County, Maryland, since the late 1990s, asked the team to consider changing the name.
Washington’s NFL team has found itself under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks in the wake of the protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and the outcry over systemic racism in the U.S.
Team owner Dan Snyder has refused, for years, to change the team’s name. But, on Friday, he said the review “allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”
New head coach Ron Rivera said the franchise name “is of personal importance to me” in Friday’s statement. Just days ago, in an interview with a Chicago radio station, Rivera, a former Bears player, had said “it is a discussion for another time.”
It appears that time has arrived amid mounting pressure from organizations that have financial ties to the team.
Moments after the team’s statement, a PepsiCo Inc. spokesperson released a comment to news outlets, saying the company has “been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue. We believe it is time for a change. We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership.”
Bank of America and Inova, two more sponsors with the Redskins, have also expressed support for the team’s review of the name.
On Thursday, FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the stadium in Landover for another five seasons, said it “communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” FedEx’s sponsorship is worth over $200 million.
Also Thursday, reports arose that Nike had removed all Redskins merchandise from its online store.
The image below shows the team chooser of Nike’s online store. The Washington team’s name is missing below the Tennessee Titans.
The NFL team’s Friday statement concluded: “We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.”
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SOURCE: WTOP News, Matthew Delaney and Dan Friedell