WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A new report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the Washington Redskins will move away from Native American imagery as the NFL team continues to discuss a potential new name.
Earlier this week, Amazon announced it was removing Redskins merchandise from its website. The online retailer followed similar moves from Walmart, Nike and Target.
These developments occurred as more than a dozen Native American leaders and organizations sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week calling for the league to force Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team name immediately.
The letter was signed by 15 Native American advocates and obtained by The Associated Press. It demands the team and the NFL cease the use of Native American names, imagery and logos — with specific importance put on Washington, which last week launched a “thorough review” of its name.
The letter was delivered on the same day that President Donald Trump voiced his opposition to any name change by the team tweeting, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”
Snyder had been steadfast against changing the name on several occasions since buying the team in 1999. Last week, sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo, Nike and Bank of America released statements saying they requested a change.
“We believe it is time for a change,” PepsiCo said.
FedEx CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner, and the company is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland. The sudden flood of sponsors coming out against the name prompted the organizational review announced Friday.
“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 organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Snyder said.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May sparked protests and a nationwide debate on racism. That conversation renewed calls for Snyder to change the name called a “dictionary defined racial slur” by Native American advocates and experts.
“We’ve never been faced with a greater opportunity and moment for this to finally happen,” IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk said. “Native Americans have been working and fighting on this issue for decades, decades and decades, and I think really talking with different Native leaders around the country, this is the moment. There’s really no excuse now for this Washington team and for the NFL to do the right thing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report