Right a Wrong: Change the Name of Washington’s NFL Team

Washington’s NFL franchise said on Friday it will undergo a “thorough review” of its name following pressure from sponsors, fans, players and Native people. That came one day after FedEx, which sponsors the franchise’s stadium, asked the team to change its name. The next day Nike removed all of the team’s gear from its online store.

For decades people in all walks of life have called for owner Daniel Snyder to change the name, but for the first time it feels like the wheels are turning. FedEx and Nike’s maneuvers are perhaps the most significant threat made against the Washington team’s brand. These corporations are standing against racism, brought by pressure from investors who were responding to years of Native activism. 

The team’s name, “Redskins,” is, according to many historians and Native people, a racial slur that references Native Americans’ skin color and — here is the more troubling claim — the bloody scalps of Indigenous people taken as bounty by white colonists. 

The Redskins are not the only pro sports team with a name that makes the Native people feel this way. The Cleveland Indians have made the Native people uncomfortable. But the pressure for the Indians to change their name has been far less because they have listened to the Native people. 

The Cleveland Indians changed their logo from the red faced Indian to simply a “C” for Cleveland a few years back. Terry Francona, the Indians manager has called for the team to change the name outright because it’s the right thing to do.

The Washington football team has been the polar opposite of the Cleveland baseball team. Every time this has been brought up in national headlines, owner Daniel Snyder shot down the idea. He even doubled down at times saying he would never change the team’s name.

But it appears that he has changed his tone once investors started to hit him where it hurts, his bank account. 

Take away all politics, what is the reason for holding on to the name?

The fan base wants the change. Native people, whose opinion matters most here, want it changed. Investors want it changed. But since Snyder isn’t a competent human being who deals with reason, let’s speak to him in a language he understands.

From a strictly business standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world to make the change. A new name and logo means all new merchandise. That leads to your entire fanbase buying new jerseys, hats, hoodies. The influx of new revenue, combined with simply doing the right thing should be a no brainer. 

Another bonus for Snyder to change the name, not that he should need one, is that he could bring the team back to their original stadium in D.C. That is a move he desperately wants, but the mayor of D.C has made it known that he will not approve the move unless the name of the franchise is changed. 

Do I have hope that Snyder will come to his senses and make the change? Honestly I wish I could say yes but this has been an ongoing battle for decades. So until I see the official change of the team name and logo, I would be skeptical. But for the first time this movement has legs, so keep applying pressure. 

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