Washington’s NFL franchise has officially dropped its “Redskins” name and logo amid mounting pressure to move on from a word that is also used as a racist slur.
The team announced the change in a statement on Twitter Monday, 10 days after vowing to launch a thorough review of the issue. The review will continue as the team searches for a new name.
“We will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,” the team said. The news release went out through its various social media platforms, including the @Redskins account on Twitter.
“(Owner) Dan Snyder and Coach (Ron) Rivera are working closely to develop a new team 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.”
It’s unclear when the franchise will announce its new name.
The Redskins name has long been considered one of the most problematic nicknames in sports, and has historically been used as a racial slur for Indigenous people.
Snyder had resisted calls to change the name for decades, citing the long history of a team he has adored since he was a boy.
“We’re never going to change the name Washington Redskins,” Snyder said back in 2001 in a clip that resurfaced on Twitter on Monday. “It means tradition. It means greatness. It means fighting for the Redskins.”
However, things changed two weeks ago when several deep-pocketed sponsors came out to denounce the name. Among them were Nike, which pulled the team’s gear from its stores, and FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the franchise’s home stadium.
The franchise responded by vowing to review the name.
Many brands have faced renewed pressure in recent months to change their logos or names amid a broader societal pushback against systemic racism. Syrup brands Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth’s, for example, vowed to change their brand identities last month in light of the public pressure.
The Redskins have long been considered one of the most problematic names in professional sports, although they are not alone in facing accusations of racism. The Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball, the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs all use Indigenous people in their brand identities.
The Blackhawks and the Braves have said they will not change their names.
The Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimoes have also faced calls to change their name, which critics say is a slur for Inuit people.
The team is currently in the middle of reviewing its name.
The vast majority of NFL teams are named after animals. A few are named for jobs, such as the Dallas Cowboys or the Pittsburgh Steelers, or for outlaws, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Las Vegas Raiders. The only other teams named for an ethnic group are the Minnesota Vikings and the Chiefs.
The Washington franchise was originally founded in Boston, Mass., as the Braves in 1932. It became the Boston Redskins in 1933 and moved to Washington in 1937. Its owner at the time, George Preston Marshall, was a segregationist and the last owner in the NFL to racially integrate his team.
No other pro sports franchise is named for the colour of an ethnic group’s skin.
The team won Super Bowl titles in 1982, 1987 and 1991. It has not won a playoff game since 2005.
— With files from the Associated Press