RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Controversy has once again resurfaced over whether the Washington Redskins’ should rename the team.
Calls for the name change were reignited Thursday following reports that the title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium, FedEx, requested the National Football League and Redskin’s owner Dan Synder remove the anti-Indigenous slur.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement Thursday.
The Associated Press reports that the company paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to the 82,000 seat FedEx Field, located in Landover, Maryland.
A statement from the Redskins Friday, shared by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter read, in part, that the team would “undergo a thorough review” of the name.
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.
Dan Snyder, Owner of the Washington Redskins, stated, “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.”
Ron Rivera, Head Coach of the Washington Redskins, remarked, “This issue is 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.”
We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.Full statement from the Washington Redskins.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that the league supports the Redskins’ review.
“In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step,” Goodell said, as reported by NFL.com.
As pressure mounted, so did the suggestions of a replacement. In place of the Redskins’ name, the Washington Warriors trended on social media Thursday shortly after news broke that FedEx was looking to distance its brand from the Redskins’ moniker.
An 8News poll asked viewers to weigh in on whether they were in favor of or against a Redskins’ name change. In less than three hours, the poll had amassed nearly 900 votes. The verdict: viewers were overwhelmingly against the organization ridding themselves of the name.
But demands for a name change are not new. For years, pleas for the Redskins to change their name have gone unanswered. Goodell said in 2018 that the billion-dollar corporation would not pressure the Washington D.C. team to change its name.
NFL.com reported that Goodell cited a 2016 Washington Post poll that found that nine out of 10 Native Americans did not take issue with the Redskins’ logo or Redskins’ name. In response to the poll, Snyder said:
The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride. Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”Statement from Dan Snyder
Snyder has long been consistent in his declaration that the team’s name will never change.
“We’ll never change the name,” he told USA Today in May 2013. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
Proclaiming himself a lifelong Redskins’ fan, Snyder told the newspaper publication that he thinks Redskins fans understand the great tradition of the team, its name and what it truly represents.
But money talks and is often heard the loudest.
Adweek’s Mary Emily O’Hara reports that a group of 87 investment firms and shareholders demanded Nike, PepsiCo and FedEx abort their business relationship with the Redskins. The advertising trade publication website says that request amounts to about $620 billion in shared revenue – a heavy price to pay for what some feel is a stubborn declaration by a fan-turned-owner.
But there’s bark to the billion-dollar bite.
A quick search of the Washington Redskins’ on Nike’s website yields no results. The site reads, “We could not find anything for the Washington Redskins.”
PepsiCo, announced as the organization’s new beverage and snack partner in 2017, hasn’t announced any changes to their branding as of this writing. As for FedEx, their reaction and name change request could prove most damning.
Frederick Smith, FedEx chairman, president and CEO, is also a minority owner with the Redskins. According to the Redskins’ front office website, Smith’s bio reads that FedEx is “a $38-billion global transportation, business services and logistics company.”
Is the name change inevitable? Current players have been mum on the topic. Prior to new Redskins’ head coach Ron Rivera‘s statement on Friday, he opted to tell Chicago radio station 670 The Score that the conversation was for “another time.”
In late June, the Redskins’ announced they were removing a figure with ties to racism, just not their moniker.
The organization announced that they would remove former owner George Preston Marshall from their Ring of Fame, doing away with all references at team facilities and the team’s stadium.
The Redskins were the last team in the National Football League to integrate under Marshall nearly 50 years ago in 1962. The decision came only after legal action was threatened by then-President John F. Kennedy and his administration, which would have prevented a segregated team from playing at a stadium erected on federal land.
But the Redskins name remains intact. History has shown the owner is convinced to listen to his own beliefs and not the pleas of investors or fans. Regarding the latter, Washington’s football fans are all too familiar with that sentiment.