Despite mounting calls for Washington’s NFL team to change its name amid nationwide protests against racism, Redskins head coach Ron Rivera dodged the issue on a Chicago radio show Monday afternoon.
The Redskins name is widely held to be a racist slur against Native Americans. The National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s largest advocacy group for American Indians and Alaskan natives, objects to it as a “dictionary defined racial slur” used interchangeably with “savage” in media to deride indigenous peoples.
When asked on 670 The Score’s McNeil and Parkins Show whether the Redskins should change the team’s name, Rivera put off giving a definitive answer.
“It is a discussion for another time … I think it is all about the moment and the timing,” he said.
“I have my beliefs, I know what I think and I support the movements and support the players. I believe in what they’re doing, and again, I think that there are certain elements to certain things that it’s all about the timing and the best time to discuss those things.”
Dan Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999, has steadfastly vowed to keep the name, despite calls to reconsider. In 2013, Snyder said the team name was “never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has gone on record as saying she wants the Redskins to change the team’s name.
Recently, a statue of team founder George Preston Marshall, the last NFL owner to integrate his team, was removed from outside RFK Stadium. Marshall was the one to change the name of the team to the Redskins from the Braves back in the 1930s.
Removing his name from the stadium was the latest move to cut ties with the legacy of the team’s racist founder, a segregationist who refused to integrate by signing Black players until “forced to do so” in 1962, more than a decade after much of the rest of the NFL.
Last week, the team renamed the lower bowl of FedEx Field that bore Marshall’s name after late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, the franchise’s first Black player. A day earlier, Events DC removed a statue of Marshall from the team’s former home at RFK Stadium.
A spokesman last week said the team had no comment, and the NFL did not respond to questions about the future of the name.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.