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Washington Redskins launches review of controversial team name

“You know where this leads,” said one of the people, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They are working on that process [of changing the name]. It will end with a new name. Dan has listened to different people in the last number of weeks. “

Asked if a change was certain, the person said, “I don’t mean 100 percent. Most likely it’s headed in that direction.”

A second person with knowledge of the situation said: “It is not a question of whether the name changes but when.”


One of the people familiar with the discussions between the team and the league said that the change “potentially” could take place before the 2020 season, which is currently scheduled to begin on September 10th, and the other said that “it is going in that so. “

In the Redskins statement, the team said the review “formalizes the initial discussions the team has had with the league in the past few weeks.” He did not announce a timeline for the review.

“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise, but also the contributions of our former students, the organization, the sponsors, the National Football League and the local community that it is proud to represent within and off the pitch, “said Snyder in the statement.

In a prepared statement, Goodell expressed league support for the team’s overhaul.

“We have had ongoing discussions with Dan in recent weeks and are in favor of this important step,” Goodell said in a written statement.

The announcement and sudden presentation of the Redskins on an issue that has long caused the franchise is the result of a broader national discussion of the breed and a showdown of the company with the country’s history. Ever since George Floyd was killed while in police custody in May, monuments have fallen, flags have been banned and protests calling for radical change, largely focused on racial equity and police brutality, have took place in cities from coast to coast.

While Redskins’ statement made no specific mention of a name change, the review will be seen across the league as a first step towards an organization move – and Snyder in particular has endured a long time. Snyder, who grew up among fans of the franchise before buying the team in 1999, famously drew a line in the sand in a 2013 interview, saying “We will never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps“.

But there has been growing momentum for a change in the past few weeks and Thursday FedEx, longtime sponsor and naming rights holder of the team’s home stadium, released a one-sentence sentence calling for a change. Fred Smith, FedEx CEO, owns a minority of the Redskins.

“We communicated to the Washington team our request to change the team name,” said the Memphis-based company.

Investors and shareholders lobbied the team’s corporate sponsors and many welcomed Redskins’ announcement on Friday.

“We have had conversations with the leadership of the NFL and Washington for a few weeks on this issue,” said a PepsiCo spokesman in a statement on Friday. “We believe it is time for a change. We are delighted to see the steps announced today by the team and look forward to continuing the collaboration.”

Larry Di Rita, president of the Bank of America for the Washington market, said in a statement: “As partners and sponsors, we have encouraged the team to change the name and we welcome this announcement.”

While Nike has yet to make a public statement, the company removed Redskins’ merchandise from its online store on Thursday.

Carla Fredericks, among the leaders of corporate investors representing $ 620 billion in assets that prompted FedEx, Nike and Pepsi to cut ties with the team if she hadn’t changed her name, on Friday asked that the Redskins review process be appropriate and be driven by native voices.

“We don’t think a lengthy review process is needed for a dictionary-defined racial insult,” said Fredericks, director of First Peoples Worldwide and director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School. “And whatever the review process undertaken should be undertaken with cutting edge native leadership.”

Snyder has long claimed that the team name and mascot are a source of pride, honoring the Native American heritage.

“We believe this review can and will be conducted in everyone’s best interest,” said the team in its Friday statement.

The Redskins have long defended the name against legal challenges and for years the issue has been controversial in political circles, with numerous lawmakers and even President Barack Obama calling for change. The name most recently threatened to sink any hope that the team would return to Washington, as both local and federal leaders claimed that a new stadium would depend on a new name.

Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) Hailed Friday’s development as a turning point in a long-standing movement.

“I’ve been working on it for a decade because I believe that all people, including Native Americans, should be treated with dignity and respect – and not dehumanized as a mascot,” he said. “Now that the corporate community is joining the movement and putting people’s dignity above profits, it is a true example of transformative change and signals that we are at a turning point.”

While the team had been firmly convinced that the nickname would not change, the organization has been struggling with its past in the past few weeks. In June, the team removed the name of George Preston Marshall, its founding owner and the last owner of the NFL to integrate his team’s registry from the franchise’s Ring of Honor. The decision came just a day after a Marshall monument was defaced and subsequently dismantled and removed from outside the RFK stadium, the franchise’s longtime home stadium.

As social issues have come to the center of attention in the past few weeks, the name issue has promised to stop during the 2020 season and team officials have already had to answer questions about it. Last week, Ron Rivera, the team’s new head coach, said to a Chicago radio station: “I think it’s a discussion for another time. I feel a boy of my age, my age, you know, who did always part of football, the name of the Washington Redskins “.

In Friday’s team statement, Rivera said, “This issue is of personal importance to me and I can’t wait to work closely with Daniel Snyder to make sure we continue the mission to honor and support Native Americans and our military. “

Les Carpenter contributed to this report.

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