It had to happen eventually. The iconic Washington Redskins American football team has announced it will undertake a “thorough review” of its controversial team name.
The decision marks a dramatic change of attitude from team owner Daniel Snyder, who has long refused to consider the idea, despite mounting pressure from political, community and other groups.
Name is insensitive to Native Americans and others
Some have long considered the ‘Redskins’ nickname insensitive to Native Americans and the sweeping change of attitude in the US in the wake of the Black Lives Matter campaign has brought the pressure to a head in recent days.
Perhaps tellingly, sponsors and others who are commercially involved with the team have added to the voices of the pressure groups. Among them is National Football League (NFL) itself, plus FedEx, PepsiCo and Nike.
Nike, for example, removed Redskins’ merchandise from its online store in a here-one-moment-gone-the-next move that caught many people off guard.
Team will consider its history and input from others
In a media statement, the Redskins’ said the review “formalises the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks”.
“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,” Snyder said.
In its own statement, issued through commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL expressed the league’s support for the team’s review.
“In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step,” Goodell said.
Sponsor PepsiCo lauds the team’s announcement
PepsiCo, which is a corporate sponsor, was quick to put out its own statement in support of the decision to review the name.
“We have been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue,” a PepsiCo spokesperson 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.”