Washington’s NFL franchise has announced that it is retiring the Redskins name, and plans to introduce a new name soon.
Monday’s announcement comes just days after the organization released a statement July 3 saying it would be undertaking a “thorough review” of the team’s name, a process the team said in Monday’s announcement has “begun in earnest.” In an interview July 4, Coach Ron Rivera — who is working with owner Daniel Snyder to choose a name — said he hoped the new name would be in place by the start of the 2020 NFL season. Others have said it will be revealed as soon as within two weeks.
The team’s name will not change immediately. The club’s website remains Redskins.com, the NFL’s official site still refers to the team as the “Washington Redskins,” and Monday’s announcement was made on Redskins letterhead. A person with knowledge of the situation said the team plans to use Redskins until a new name is chosen.
On Sunday, two people with knowledge of the team’s plans said that the preferred replacement name has been held up by trademark issues, which is why the team couldn’t announce the new name Monday.
“As part of this [review] process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward,” the team said in a statement. “Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.”
The statement also said Snyder and 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.”
In the July 4 interview, Rivera said he and Snyder had come up with two names that Rivera really liked. He did not reveal the names, but said he wanted to confer with Native American and military organizations to make sure that the new name properly honored both.
The decision to change 87-year-old team name comes amid mounting pressure on the franchise from corporate sponsors and the broader nationwide discussion of race.
Snyder had previously said he would never change the controversial Redskins name, which is considered to be a slur against Native Americans. But in the social uprising that followed George Floyd’s death, with corporations and governments around the country removing logos and symbols considered to be offensive, the pressure to drop the old name — including from some of the franchise’s most important sponsors — was too great.
At least one of Snyder’s outside advisers urged him to deal with the name issue in the days after Floyd’s death, a person with direct knowledge of the plea said. Soon after, Snyder apparently began confronting the reality of a name change.
On July 2, FedEx — one of the franchise’s top sponsors and the holder of its stadium’s naming rights — released a statement asking the team to change its name, and it sent a letter to team lawyers saying it would terminate the naming rights deal and not pay the contract’s remaining $45 million if Snyder did not change the team name. Other sponsors, including PepsiCo, Nike and Bank of America, also made similar demands.
Rivera, said in the July 4 interview that he has been working with Snyder on the name change process since late May or early June. Rivera added that NFL officials started advising Snyder on the name issue sometime in mid-June.
Name changes are complicated processes, and Washington faces a serious challenge in instituting the new name before the Sept. 13 season-opening game against Philadelphia. In addition to making new helmets and uniforms, the word “Redskins” must be pulled from signs at the team’s Ashburn, Va. practice facility and around FedEx Field. A media guide, about to go to the printers, must have the old name removed from 500 pages of type. Even the official club address, 21300 Redskins Park Drive, has to be altered.
Source: Washington Post: Washington’s NFL team is retiring the Redskins name; new name to come later