Washington Football Team Changes Anti-Indigenous Name

Kevin Sethre, staff writer

Daniel Snyder, owner of what was formerly known as the National Football League’s Washington Redsk*ns, decided to drop its team name that had been the subject of controversy for several decades this past summer.

The team officially announced on July 13 that they would get rid of the offensive name and logo. This change occurred during a summer of demands for racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. 

When Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians released a statement on July 3 saying that they would discuss the future of the franchise including a new team name, the debate over whether sports teams with Native-based mascots should change their names was brought to attention again. While many hoped that Washington would choose to do so, it was unexpected because of a quote by Snyder in a 2013 USA Today article where he said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.”

According to Sporting News, his stance changed after “investors worth over $620 billion sent letters to Nike, Pepsi and FedEx calling for the end of their sponsorships of the team” on July 1. Two days later, FedEx, who has the naming rights to the team’s stadium, sent a formal request to the team to change their name. Subsequently Nike, who provides jerseys for all 32 NFL teams, pulled all Washington gear from their website. The team said it would “review” its name in response. 

While Snyder only made the decision to change the name because money was at stake, it was a change that was long overdue and marked a step in the right direction for professional sports.