‘Redskins’ no more: Washington’s NFL franchise officially punts name

It looks like “Never” is now.

Washington’s NFL franchise officially announced Monday it’s dropping the name “Redskins.”

“On July 3rd, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name. That review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward,” the team said in a statement.

“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.

“Dan Snyder and Coach 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.”

A new name will be revealed later. For now, “Redskins” is still being used.

“Wanted to share some context with you all. I understand it’s strange for the announcement this morning to go out on Redskins letterhead but the reasoning behind it is that until we have a temporary name or a new name we’re still the Redskins,” a team spokesman said.

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Reports of the announcement first emerged Sunday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed the name change during a news conference Monday, as well as where she would like to see the city’s team play.

“I would say yes, we want to change the name and change the location,” she said. “You’ve heard me say that a number of times that the Washington football team should be paying playing in Washington.”

The team is among the oldest franchises in the National Football League. It has used the “Redskins” moniker since 1933, when it was based in Boston. Earlier, when the team started in 1932, it was called the “Braves.”

Founding owner George Preston Marshall moved the Redskins to D.C. for the 1937 season.

The team has faced pressure to change its name for years. And Monday’s announcement marks a hard pivot for owner Dan Snyder, who said in 2013 the team would “never” change its name.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder removes his glasses as he speaks during a news conference with head coach Ron Rivera, at the team’s NFL football training facility, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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

Snyder bought the team in 1999.

The team recently started cutting ties with racist founder Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.

Marshall was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate his team.

The move to change the name of Washington’s team follows a nationwide swell focusing on racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota on May 25.

The team launched a “thorough review” of the name July 3 that the NFL supported. It came in the aftermath of prominent sponsors FedEx, Nike, PepsiCo and Bank of America asking the team to change the name.

FedEx is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, and CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner. Nike and Amazon pulled team gear from their online stores.

Native American advocates and experts have long criticized the name they call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.” Over a dozen Native leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.

Not everyone supports dropping the name.

President Donald Trump has criticized moves by the Redskins and Cleveland’s MLB team the Indians, who are on deck to reassess their own long-debated name.

Trump tweeted, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”

WTOP’s Matt Small and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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