The Washington Redskins are likely to change their name, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, after the team announced Friday it will “undergo a thorough review” of the nickname amid renewed pressure.
“In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name. This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks,” the statement said.
“… We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.”
Team owner Dan Snyder has been under more pressure in recent weeks to change the name, given the national focus on human rights and social justice after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“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 it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Snyder said in the statement.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Friday that the league has had “ongoing discussions” with Snyder and was “supportive of this important step.”
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith also issued a statement supporting the Redskins’ formal review of the team’s name.
I expressed my concerns about the team name a long time ago (https://t.co/yJj8Zai5vL) and support this decision. This can be a moment, especially for our city in this time, to take a step towards unity and healing. https://t.co/uq1of8hoZy
— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) July 3, 2020
On Thursday, FedEx, which has naming rights to the team’s stadium under a $205 million deal that runs until 2025, requested the team change its name. Sponsors Nike and PepsiCo also reportedly are under pressure to sever ties with the team unless it changes its name, Adweek has reported.
Frederick Smith, the chairman, CEO and president of FedEx Corp., also owns a minority stake in the Redskins.
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. The other 31 NFL teams were listed, and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results.
“We have been talking to the NFL and sharing our concerns regarding the name of the Washington team,” Nike said in a statement Friday. “We are pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.”
PepsiCo, a sponsor since 2017, expressed a similar sentiment and said, “We believe it is time for a change.” Sponsor Bank of America said it has “encouraged the team to change the name” and welcomed the organization’s review.
In 2014, The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin asked FedEx shareholders to reconsider the naming-rights agreement, but shareholders voted to stick with company officials and continue the business relationship, according to the Memphis Business Journal.
Native American leaders want Snyder to change the name, which the franchise has used since 1933. In the past, groups protested the name and tried to win in court. Those efforts failed.
The group Change the Mascot, which has long advocated for Washington to change its team name, said in a statement that a change should be announced right away.
“There is no reason not to immediately announce that the team is changing the mascot, since any real review will lead to the inevitable conclusion that the deeply offensive and racist name of Washington’s NFL team must go now,” Change the Mascot leader Ray Halbritter said.
Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview now is not the time to discuss the name, called it “an issue of personal importance.” Rivera, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and is the only Hispanic head coach currently in the NFL, added he’d work closely with Snyder during the process.
The team in late June removed founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument to him was also removed from the RFK Stadium site. Marshall resisted efforts and pressure to integrate his roster, becoming the last NFL owner to do so in 1962.
On Thursday, an Ohio school district decided that its high school sports teams should no longer be known as the Redskins.
The Forest Hills Board of Education voted 4-1 to “retire” the name and mascot at Anderson High School, which is in an eastern Cincinnati suburb. A new name has not been chosen, and officials plan to soon announce a timeline and process for how a new name and mascot will be selected. The Redskins logo will be phased out in stages beginning in the 2020-21 school year, officials said.
ESPN’s John Keim and The Associated Press contributed to this report.