Washington’s NFL team confirm they will drop racist ‘Redskins’ nickname

Franchise has come under pressure from prominent sponsors to drop 87-year-old moniker

After  pressure from sponsors and retailers, the NFL franchise from Washington is  to replace the 87-year-old Redskins nickname.  Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After pressure from sponsors and retailers, the NFL franchise from Washington is to replace the 87-year-old Redskins nickname. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

 

Washington’s NFL team have confirmed they will get rid of the name “Redskins”, officially distancing themselves from a term that has been described as a “dictionary-defined racial slur” by experts and advocates.

It is unclear when a new name will be revealed for one of the league’s oldest franchises.

Sports Business Daily, which first reported Monday’s official announcement, said that the new name would not be announced yet because trademark issues are pending. When Washington’s basketball team changed their name from the “Bullets” the process took two years to complete, although the NFL team are understood to want to wrap the process up more quickly due to the anti-racism protests that have swept the US in recent months.

Washington owner Dan Snyder announced in a July 3rd statement that his team were launching a “thorough review” of the 87-year-old nickname and that the NFL supported the idea. That came in the aftermath of the team’s prominent sponsors, FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America, asking them to change the name. Until that corporate pressure was applied, Snyder had shown no indication he would change the name since buying the team in 1999. Indeed, in 2013 he told USA Today that he would not change the team’s name and the newspaper could put his quote “in all caps”.

FedEx is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, and the chief executive, Frederick Smith, is a minority owner. Nike and other companies have pulled team equipment from their online stores.

More than a dozen Native American leaders and organisations wrote to the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. In the letter that was obtained by the Associated Press, they said they “expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organisations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples”.

Last month, the team removed the name of their racist founder, George Preston Marshall, from the Ring of Fame at FedEx Field, and a monument to him was removed from the site of the old RFK Stadium.

Washington DC’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, also said the name was an “obstacle” to the team returning to the District. The lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and they are still talking to Washington, Virginia and Maryland about building a new stadium.

The team’s decision comes as the NFL reckons with its position on civil rights and racism. Last month, the league admitted it had been “wrong” not to listen to players protesting against racism and police brutality in the United States. – Guardian

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