The Washington Redskins could get a new name.
The NFL team announced Friday it will review the name, long criticized for racist connotations.
“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,” the Redskins said in a statement. “This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.”
“This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with (team owner) Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military,” said head coach Ron Rivera.
In recent weeks amid a new reckoning over race in America, several brands announced they would be changing or ending names to avoid controversial or racist overtones. Nestlé said it would rebrand its Red Skins and Chicos sweets, and Quaker Oats said it would retire the Aunt Jemima brand and logo, acknowledging it was based on a racial stereotype.
FedEx — which holds naming rights for the stadium the team plays in — told CNN Business this week that it had asked the team to change its name.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement the league is “supportive of this important step.”
Nike, which supplies the team’s uniforms and equipment, said in a statement Friday that it was “pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.” The sports apparel company has been talking to the NFL about its concerns regarding the team’s name, the statement said.
The statement was released after more than 80 groups and shareholders that invest in the company sent a letter to Nike, asking the company to end its relationship with the team unless the team changed its name.
A spokesperson for PepsiCo, a Redskins partner said, “We believe it is time for a change. We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership.”
Team owner Dan Snyder said in Friday’s statement the review would let the team take account of the “proud tradition and history of the franchise,” in addition to input from sponsors, the NFL and the community.
In the past, Snyder has refused to change the name, telling USA Today in 2013 that it would “never” happen.
“It’s that simple,” he said at the time. “NEVER — you can use caps.”
Last month, the team removed the name of founder George Preston Marshall from a facade in FedEx Field. Additionally, a monument to Marshall was removed from outside the Redskins’ former home, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
Marshall was well known for opposing integration of the NFL and didn’t sign an African American to the roster until 1962 — 16 years after the league started signing Black players.