Amid mounting criticism from external figures and a key sponsor asking for change, the Washington Redskins said in a statement Friday morning the franchise will undergo an evaluation of its team name.
“In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community,” the team said, “the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.”
Washington said the review “formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.” NFL players, teams and the league itself have shifted tone on racial justice advocacy since George Floyd was killed May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis police.
“In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
As of Thursday night, however, two people familiar with the NFL’s actions on the matter told USA TODAY Sports that no dialogue between the league and team had taken place recently on the franchise’s name. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose details on the issue.
The organization did not provide details on a time frame for the review, but when asked about the chances of Snyder sticking with Redskins, two different people familiar with the owner’s stance told USA TODAY Sports, “It’s over.” The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision had been formally made.
Thursday, FedEx—title sponsor of Washington’s stadium in Landover, Maryland—formally asked the team to change its name.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,“ FedEx said in a statement emailed to the USA TODAY Network.
FedEx chairman Frederick Smith holds a minority stake in Washington’s ownership group.
Nike and Pepsi are among companies who have received pressure to end their business relationship with Washington until the team changes its name. A Thursday night search on Nike.com for “Redskins” generated no results. Searches for other NFL teams’ gear worked as previously.
Washington owner Dan Snyder, who told USA TODAY Sports in 2013 he would “NEVER” change the team’s name, issued a statement Friday morning that the review would allow the franchise to factor in tradition and history, in addition to the community’s current interests.
Ron Rivera, who Washington hired as head coach in January, said the issue is “of personal importance to me.”
“I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our military,” said Rivera, one of four NFL head coaches of color.