Dan Snyder has felt pressure before as owner of the Washington Redskins, but not like this. There have long been calls for Snyder to change the name of the team from what is viewed as a racial slur toward Native Americans, but he’s consistently refused to do so, at one point going as far as to say it would “never” happen. That was then, however, and this is now., a wiping of the mascot and name from Nike’s online database, and the request by FedEx CEO Frederick Smith — who is also a minority owner in Snyder’s franchise as well as head of the company that sponsors the team’s home stadium — Snyder is softening his stance.
He’ll now open up the floor internally for an official review of the name, per an official press release from the club, which strongly hints at the likelihood of a looming name change.
“In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name. This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.
“Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, stated, ‘This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise, but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.
“Ron Rivera, Head Coach of the Washington Redskins, remarked, ‘This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our military.’
“We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.”
Several hours after the team’s statement, Nike, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, released its own statement as it relates to the team being open to a possible name change.
“We have been talking to the NFL and sharing our concerns regarding the name of the Washington team. We are pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.”
This marks the first time Snyder has been open to such discussions. This consideration follows the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police, an act of social injustice that has fueled global protests and the tearing down or removal of racially-charged statues around the U.S. — one being that of Washington’s first team owner, George Preston Marshall. Snyder has taken the added step to commit to wiping Marshall from the organization altogether, but calls for a name change have hit fever pitch and simply erasing Marshall hasn’t curbed them.
While this press release doesn’t guarantee a change is on the horizon, the logic is if Washington were going to stick with the current name — it likely wouldn’t need to open the floor to an extensive review process (for the first time in the team’s history as it relates to the name/mascot). Time will tell if it occurs, and what the new name would be, as well as what process would be in Snyder and minority owners like Smith would use to determine it, but what’s clear is anything that does or does not occur will include as many meaningful voices as possible; versus Snyder simply putting his foot down as he has in the past on the issue.