Washington, D.C. NFL Team to Shed Redskins Name and Logo

  • Upcoming name change was officially announced on July 13, 2020
  • The new name is still to be determined, pending trademark complications
  • Washington’s current name is widely considered to be a racist slur
  • Major sponsors threatened to walk, prompting owner Daniel Snyder to finally change the name
Person protesting the Washington Redskins team name
The Washington, D.C. NFL team announced on Monday that it is retiring the racist Redskins name and logo in favor of something that is not derogatory toward Native Americans. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New name TBA before season starts

The Washington, D.C. National Football League (NFL) franchise has announced that it is retiring the “Redskins” name and logo. It does not appear that a new name will be forthcoming today; Sports Business Daily reported that trademark issues are causing a delay.

“Dan Snyder and Coach (Ron) 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,” said the organization in Monday morning’s statement.

As the news began to evolve last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Washington will not incorporate any Native American imagery in the new logo. It will, however, stick with the team’s traditional burgundy and gold color scheme.

Washington is expected to be one of the worst teams in the league for the upcoming NFL season

BetOnline set odds on possible candidates for the Washington’s new name after the team announced earlier this month that the “Redskins” name would be reviewed. “Redtails” was the favorite at 3/1, followed by “Generals” at 4/1, “Presidents” at 5/1, and “Lincolns” at 6/1.

Washington is expected to be one of the worst teams in the league for the upcoming NFL season, listed as the longest or second-longest odds to win the Super Bowl at just about every sportsbook.

Money talks

Though there have been dissenters, fans and players alike have been calling for Washington to change its name for years. Pressure has ramped up over the last decade, in particular, for the franchise to shed itself of the racist slur against Native Americans. And with the worldwide push to root out systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police in May, an even stronger spotlight has shined on Washington’s name and imagery.

Team owner Daniel Snyder has been stubborn about changing the derogatory moniker, even going so far as to tell the USA Today in 2013 to “put it in all caps” that he would never change the name. But it appears that financial pressure finally got to him.

threatened to pull its stadium signage if the offensive nickname was not tossed

On July 2, FedEx, the name sponsor for Washington’s football stadium, released a statement saying that it wanted the team’s name changed. The company is nearing the end of 27-year, $205 million sponsorship deal that began in 1998. According to The Washington Post, it threatened to pull its stadium signage if the offensive nickname was not tossed before the season started.

Other sponsors followed Fedex’s lead and the country’s biggest retailers – Amazon, Target, and Walmart – said they would stop selling the team’s branded merchandise.

Other Native American sports nicknames

Washington’s NFL franchise is not the only team with a Native American-themed nickname or tradition, but its name is considered far and away the most offensive. Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians are seriously considering a name change, as well; the team’s caricature logo has also been the subject of scorn.

The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks announced that they will not change their nickname because it was specifically created to honor a real person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation.

The Atlanta Braves recently put out a statement to say that they are not considering a name change, but are discussing the use of the “tomahawk chop” cheer and chant at games. Fans at Kansas City Chiefs and Florida State Seminoles games also partake in the group cheer.

Many colleges have switched names over the years. Some of the most notable were the University of Miami-Ohio shifting from the Redskins to the RedHawks in 1996, the University of North Dakota going from Fighting Sioux to Fighting Hawks in 2015, and the Syracuse Orangemen moving to simply Orange in 2004.

Even Marquette University changed its nickname from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles in 1994. Though the name was not explicitly Native American-related, the school’s mascot and imagery were.