On Monday, the Washington Redskins, a team in the National Football League (NFL), announced in a statement that it would change the team’s logo and drop the name “Redskins,” a word that has long been denounced by Native Americans as a racial slur.
The announcement comes after the team said in a statement on July 3 that it would “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.”
“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,” the team said in Monday’s statement.
According to the statement, the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, and coach, Ron Rivera, are “working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.”
The Washington Redskins have been known by that name since 1933 and Native American activists have unsuccessfully petitioned the team and the NFL for decades to change it.
In 1992, Native American activists embarked on a campaign to persuade the United States Patent and Trademark Office to revoke the trademark.
However, in 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that even offensive trademarks are protected under First Amendment rights.
At that time Snyder had said of the ruling, “I am THRILLED! Hail to the Redskins.”
In a 2013 interview with USA Today, Snyder said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
However, after the June 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, businesses have come under pressure to denounce symbols that are associated with the nation’s continued legacy of systemic racial injustice, even if those symbols are their own.
The team’s decision on Monday to change its name is underscored by the financial pressure it faced from some of its biggest sponsors, such as FedEx, Nike and Pepsi.
On July 2, amid pressure from investors, FedEx told the NFL team in a letter that it would ask for its name to be removed from the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, if the team didn’t change its name. FedEx pays the team about US$8 million for naming rights to the stadium.
Furthermore, on the same day Nike-branded Redskins merchandise stopped appearing on the brand’s online store. Nike provides the team with uniforms and equipment.
The next day, July 3, the team announced that it was reviewing the name.
After the review announcement, Walmart, Target and Amazon announced that, barring a name change, they would no longer sell the team’s merchandise in their retail stores.
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