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It was in 2013 that Redskins owner Dan Snyder said he would never change the iconic football franchise's name, but change has now come to the Washington Redskins. It has been announced that the Redskins are changing their name. Even though they're not sure to what.
The name of the team has been a source of elevated controversy in recent years. Taken from a term that was once used to refer to Native Americans, the name was decried by Washington, DC, Mayor Vincent Gray in 2013. That same year, a group of Native Americans brought suit before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, stating that the team should lose its trademark protections.
Journalists at that time came out publicly and said they would not use the name of the team when reporting on the team. Sports writers who opposed the name included Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, Bob Costas of NBC, the entire editorial board of the Washington Post, and the Philadelphia Daily News' John Smallwood.
According to a PEW survey, 76 outlets and journalists were opposed to the name of the Redskins, and wanted to take action themselves to not use it. While 66 percent of DC residents were opposed to the name change, President Barack Obama said he would "think about changing" the team name.
The name change is most likely a result of corporate interests pressuring the team to adopt a new moniker. Earlier this month, it was announced that the team would review the name and consider a change.
This came after popular sports outfitter Nike removed all Redskins merchandise from their online shop.
FedEx, who bought naming rights to the team's stadium, also asked for the change.
A statement issued from the team shortly thereafter read: "In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team's name. This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks... We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind."
While corporations and media professionals are primarily the ones behind the push to rebrand the franchise, a poll conducted by the Washington Post in 2016 found that, of 504 Native Americans asked, nine out of ten were not offended by name.
"Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word 'Redskin' was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number—8 in 10—said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name," the poll concluded.
The most recently added teams to the NFL have adopted names that are either animal species or based in regional identity, such as the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, or, the Houston Texans, added in 2002.
The official bird of Washington, DC, is the diminutive Wood Thrush. Perhaps the team will consider something along those lines, or if they really want to cave to corporate pressure, they could adopt a leftist political party identity for their own.