The Washington Redskins NFL American football franchise pledged today (Friday) to review its controversial name after several of the District of Columbia’s top officials warned owner Daniel Snyder that there is no chance of the team being allowed to move to the RFK Stadium site unless the team changes its moniker.
The team won three Super Bowls in the 1980s and early 1990s during their time at RFK Stadium before moving in 1997 to the 82,000-seat FedExField, five miles east of Washington, DC in the state of Maryland.
Ongoing demolition work at the federally owned RFK Stadium is set to be complete by 2021, and Snyder has reportedly been considering the site for a possible return when the team’s current lease at FedExField expires in 2027.
However, the ‘Redskins’ moniker has been at the centre of a long-running dispute over claims of ethnic stereotyping and the franchise broke its silence today (Friday) by confirming a “thorough review of the team’s name… [which]… formalises the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks”.
Snyder commented: “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 organisation, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added in a separate statement: “In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step.”
Before the statements were released on Friday, Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives, DC Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio and Raúl M. Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, lined up to set the parameters, with the latter telling the Washington Post that a move back to the site would be a “non-starter” with the current moniker.
Falcicchio added: “There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, DC, without first changing the team name.”
In a further twist, FedEx, which has served as the stadium naming-rights partner for the team’s current stadium since 1999 and has a deal that will run until 2025, has asked the franchise to drop the ‘Redskins’ name.
In a statement, FedEx said: “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
FedEx, along with a number of other global enterprises such as Nike and PepsiCo, have been lobbied by a group of investment firms to end their sponsorship agreements with the team unless the name is changed, according to a report in AdWeek.
Image: Events DC