Redskins announce review of name after sponsor threat

Franchise released a statement this afternoon saying their FedEx sponsor has demanded a name change.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS have launched a review of the team’s name, the NFL franchise said today, following a fresh wave of calls to scrap the moniker long-criticised as racist.

In a statement which came just 24 hours after Washington’s stadium sponsor FedEx demanded a name change, the franchise said it would undertake a “thorough review” of the Redskins tag.

“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,” the team said.

“This review formalises the initial discussions the has been having with the league in recent weeks.”

Washington owner Dan Snyder had long been resistant to changing the team’s name, which is widely considered offensive to Native Americans.

“We’ll never change the name,” Snyder said in 2018. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

However following the protests which have swept across the United States following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25, the Redskins’ name has come under renewed scrutiny.

Reports this week said that FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo all received letters from 87 investment firms asking the companies and others to sever its ties with the Redskins over the name.

On Thursday, US delivery giant FedEx Corp — which paid $205 million to the Redskins in 1998 for the naming rights to the team’s stadium — confirmed it had requested the team change its name.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a one-sentence statement.

Team owner Snyder said on Friday the team planned to canvas opinion from across the community in its name change review.

“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 organisation, sponsors, the NFL and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Snyder said.

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell meanwhile welcomed the move, revealing the league had been engaged in extensive discussions with Washington about the matter. 

“In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step,” Goodell said in a statement.

Washington head coach Ron Rivera, one of only a handful of minority head coaches in the NFL, was also supportive of the move.

“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,” Rivera said in a statement.

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