NFL

Washington Redskins and The Origin Of Their Controversial Name

Over the last several years, there has been a significant push to see the Washington Redskins change their team name. That has all centered on the negative racial connotations that word has to the Native American community. It has been a hot button of discussion, but team owner Dan Snyder has continued to push back on retaining the name Redskins due to the long history the franchise has had under that word. Nonetheless, it pushes the conversation toward how the organization attached that name to their franchise in the first place.

Washington Redskins’ name controversy

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The discussion around a possible name change for the Washington Redskins began to pick up steam back in 2013 as it brought up during a symposium in February that year at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian located in Washington, D.C. That led to the Oneida Indian Nation of New York to put forth radio ads that played during games in each city the team played in that year.

That led to many members of congress along with then-President Barack Obama push for a name change. Team owner Dan Synder stood firm through it despite the negative racial meaning of the word toward Native Americans. That included him coming out to voice in 2013 that he never plans to change the name of the franchise, which later that year in October with a letter to fans explaining why he won’t cave in. (H/T USA TODAY Sports)

“I respect the opinions of those who disagree,” Snyder wrote. “I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in years to come.”​​​​​​

Snyder has maintained that stance over the years that hasn’t budged even with the increased attention on social injustices over the last few years. It has only created more significant frustration and anger around the entire matter.

How the Washington Redskins got their name

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The Washington Redskins had begun as a franchise in 1932 that initially shared the name with the Boston Braves as they shared the name and stadium with the baseball team.

A change was made by then-co-owner George Preston Marshall to the Redskins in 1933 to avoid confusion between the two franchises. However, the team kept the same imagery than to use one that honored head coach William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, whose identity as a Native American was a hot topic of debate.

The current logo of the franchise was proposed by Walter Wetzel, a former Blackfeet tribal chairman and past president of the National Congress of American Indians, back in 1972. It’s taken the likeness of the image used on the Buffalo Nickel. Since then, the franchise has retained the imagery and name that has continued to garner a strong push for an entire overhaul.

Will the Washington Redskins change their name?

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The conversation over the Washington Redskins team name has become a pressing topic as of late, especially with the recent social injustice issues that the black community continues to face.

That saw FedEx, who holds the naming rights to the franchise’s stadium under a $205 million deal that extends through 2025, sent a request for the team to change their name. It has also seen sponsors, such as Nike and Pepsi, pressuring the organization to make that move. It included Nike removing all the team gear from their online store on Thursday night.

Commissioner Roger Goodell also chimed in stating on Friday that the NFL has continued to have discussions with Dan Snyder with the hope of making that change. All the signs look to point in the direction of a name change finally, but it’s on Snyder to make that call. Given the potential financial losses from sponsors that could ultimately bring about change that has long been needed.