Story at a glance

  • The Washington NFL team has long been criticized for its racist name, but refused to change it.
  • In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Americans have reconsidered previous stances on racist monuments, statues and other such memorials.
  • Now, renewed pressure to change the team’s name is coming from not only fans but companies and investors.

Washington, D.C., officials and investors are turning up the heat on the Washington NFL team, threatening a potential relocation and corporate sponsorships unless the team’s name changes.

“I call on Dan Snyder once again to face that reality, since he does still desperately want to be in the nation’s capital,” Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives told The Washington Post. “He has got a problem he can’t get around — and he particularly can’t get around it today, after the George Floyd killing.”

The team left RFK Stadium in D.C. after the 1996 season, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has shown an interest in wooing it back. But the land belongs to the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service and U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, told The Washington Post that the team name was a "non-starter" for discussions about the development of the site, which is being razed next year. 

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D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio also told The Washington Post, “There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name.” 

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Like many words, the origins of the name Redskins are unclear. What is clear is that starting in the 19th century, it was used in conjunction with scalp hunting; sometimes to refer to the bloody, red scalp or other body part of a Native American collected for bounty by white hunters.

The name is racist, used in reference to other Indigenous people by white people, but the Washington NFL team has defended it against criticism for decades. In 2013, team owner Daniel Snyder said he would never change the name, insisting that it was “honoring” Indigenous people. But the protests following the police killing of George Floyd have forced business interests to follow, and now, investors are putting pressure on major companies to cut ties with the team. 


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The declaration comes days after Adweek reported that 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion asked Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationships with the Washington NFL team unless it changes the name. Neither the companies nor the team have commented. 

Petitions have circulated on social media, raising support for a name change. But the name has survived similar pushes before, and unless and until the name changes, it's possible it will survive again. 


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Published on Jul 02, 2020