After 87 seasons Washington’s NFL team, the ‘Redskins,’ will be retiring the incredibly offensive team name and logo.
The following statement was released on Monday July 13, 2020 saying:
“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.
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.”
While of course it’s the right thing to do, it might be worthwhile to examine why it’s happening now. In an interview with USA TODAY Sports in the spring of 2013, team owner Daniel Snyder said, “We will never change the name of the team. As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”
In an effort to prevent Washington’s NFL organization from maintaining their federal trademark protection, multiple trademark lawsuits were filed claiming that the term “redskins” is in fact disparaging. The cases of Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo and Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. made it through the court process while eleven additional applications were submitted and rejected based off the similarity of the arguments of disparagement.
Snyder doubled down in that same USA TODAY Sports interview in 2013 saying, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
So what changed in the past seven years? Was this move made out of a sudden change of heart? Of course not. This was a matter of enough corporate pressure being placed on the NFL organization to make the change. Native Americans have been calling for the organization to change the name for years but of course their cries of racial insensitivity were met with silence.
There has been mounting pressure from the public towards corporations to clean up their acts when it comes to racial insensitivity. Investors had been encouraging major sponsors like PepsiCo, Nike and FedEx to withdraw support if the team refused to change their name/logo. FedEx made threats to remove their logo from the stadium if no action was made. Word got back to the organization who released a statement that began with the good ol’, “In light of recent events…” nonsense. Upon hearing that the team was going to begin the process of reviewing the name, Walmart and Target discontinued selling Redskins merchandise. Nike also pulled their merchandise from their website.
The Representative of Oneida Nation, Ray Halbritter, who started the ‘Change the Mascot’ movement to get the team to change its name years ago said, “It closes a painful chapter of denigration and disrespect toward Native Americans and other people. This is about our children, about our future.”
In the end it was economic pressure and not a desire to do the right thing that pushed the organization towards change. The message of “money talks” is loud and clear.