Washington owner Dan Snyder announces team will review nickname

In a move that was long past due, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder announced Friday the team will undergo a “thorough review of the team’s name.”

The team said it has been discussing internally a name change with the league in recent weeks.

Snyder said in a statement:

“This process 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 is proud to represent on and off the field.”

Head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement it was an “issue of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”

In a separate statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the discussions and said, “We are supportive of this important step.”

The announcement comes after weeks of pressure for the team to change it.

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 06: A Washington Redskins helmet is seen on the field before the game between the Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots at FedExField on October 6, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
A name change could be coming in Washington. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Winds of change had been blowing for Washington

For years, Snyder had bluntly rejected any and all calls for him to change the team name. Snyder went so far as to declare he would “never,” in all caps, change the name in 2013.

So what changed on a topic where Native American protesters, the White House and the United Nations Human Rights Council found only deaf ears? In a word: money.

Two of the team’s biggest financial partners signaled they wanted a name change. FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the team’s stadium, recently revealed it informed the team it wanted to see a new name at FedEx Field. Nike, the league’s official uniform supplier, did more showing than telling when it wiped the team’s products from its online store.

The District of Columbia found its own arm to twist when several politicians said that the team being able to move back to the District of Columbia from Landover, Maryland would be contingent on a name change. The team’s lease at FedEx Field remains intact until 2027 and D.C. is just one of three possible states/districts the team could build its next home in, but it still likely carried some weight.

This was all seemingly precipitated by racial inequality taking center stage in American politics following the killing of George Floyd. What was once seen as acceptable by many was pointed out as problematic. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has released a statement saying Black lives matter and admitting the league was wrong for not listening to player protests.

In that climate, enough gears started turning for Snyder to at least listen.

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