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Washington's NFL team retires name long condemned as anti-Indigenous slur

The move comes amid growing pressure from sponsors and less than two weeks after the team announced it would conduct a "thorough review" of the name.
Image: New York Giants v Washington Redskins
A Washington Redskins helmet sits on the field before a game between the Redskins and New York Giants at FedExField on November 23, 2017.Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

Washington's NFL team announced Monday it will change its name, long condemned as an anti-Indigenous slur.

The move comes amid growing pressure from sponsors and less than two weeks after the team announced it would conduct a "thorough review" of the name.

The team did not say what its new name will be.

But the old one is out after years of efforts from Native American groups and a renewed focus as the country re-evaluates systemic racial inequalities and reignites conversations on racism in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review," the team said in a press release.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that he was "supportive of this important step."

Team owner Dan Snyder said he wanted to take into account the "proud tradition and history of the franchise" but also wants to include input from others including the organization, the community and the National Football League.

Snyder told USA Today in 2013 that he would "never change the name."

"It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps," he said. But sponsors stepped up the pressure in recent weeks.

The team said in its announcement on Monday that Snyder and head coach Ron Rivera are working to develop a new team name and logo.

FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the field where the team plays, officially requested that it change its name earlier this month.

That came after Adweek reported that 87 investment firms and shareholders worth $620 billion sent a letter urging the shipping company, Nike and PepsiCo to stop doing business with the team until the name was changed.

Amazon last week joined Target and Walmart in refusing to carry merchandise bearing the name.

Washington's NFL franchise is not the only sports team exploring issues surrounding its name, with Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians also reviewing "the best path forward."

President Donald Trump has criticized the actions of both teams, calling them "fabled sports franchises." He tweeted last Monday that the teams "look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct."

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser acknowledged last month that the name has been a roadblock in getting the city its own stadium. The team's home stadium is FedExField in Maryland.

"I think it's past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people," Bowser recently said on Washington radio station WTEM.

"And this is a great franchise with a great history that's beloved in Washington, and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we've built for the team."

In 2014, the U.S. Patent Office canceled several of the team's trademarks, ruling that the name was "disparaging to Native Americans." The team was able to get the trademark back after the Supreme Court struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks.

According to NPR, the word "redskin" was transformed into a derogatory reference for Native Americans. Initially, Native Americans used the word as a self-identifier during negotiations with the French, but it later became a slur after non-Indigenous colonizers began to use it in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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