After years of lawsuits and pressure from indigenous groups, Washington’s NFL team is finally dropping its racist name and will begin the process of picking out a new name and designing a new logo. This marks an end to a movement that began 48-years ago.
Unfortunately, this move wasn’t made because the franchise finally realized it was in the wrong; it was made because multiple sponsors threatened to pull out of their contracts with the team if the name wasn’t changed. The biggest of these sponsors was FedEx, the company that has the naming rights to the stadium.
That’s what forced shit stain of a human Dan Snyder to change the brand. It was his team losing out on tens of millions of dollars during a time no one is really heading to Landover, Md. to watch his club get its ass kicked on a weekly basis.
The name’s historical connotations, and the genocide of this land’s indigenous population, can not be (and will not be) debated. This decision to change the franchise’s is a long time coming.
Indigenous groups have been pushing to change the name since 1972 when a delegation of 11 people (representing various indigenous groups) met with then-President Edward Bennett Williams. All that meeting led to was a decision to change the logo from a stylized “R” to a profile of a Native American warrior, which was designed by a former chairman of the Blackfeet Nation Walter “Blackie” Wetzel.
Another pair of major event to occur, was a protest of 2,000 Native Americans outside of Super Bowl XXVI. Seven months after Washington’s Super Bowl championship, seven Native Americans filed a motion with the US Patent and Trademark office to revoke the franchise’s trademark…it was on hold from 1992 to 1999 when the office finally ruled to cancel seven of the team’s trademarks.
In 2013, the rest of the trademarks would be revoked before the Supreme Court would reinstate them in 2017.
After the trademarks were stripped in 2013, Snyder infamously said that they would “NEVER” re-brand the franchise and that never can be put in all caps. He was adamant that the franchise’s tradition in the NFL, with the controversial name, would be protected and honored…while ignoring the real historical roots of the name he was so proud of. But the pressure has mounted on the organization, and its sponsors, in the wake of the protest following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis as there has been a growing focus on racist monuments, branding, and symbols across the United States.
There were many other lawsuits and discussions about the team’s branding during the last 48-years — including a Washington Post poll that found 9 out of 10 Native Americans didn’t find the name offensive. But none of them made any headway on removing a name that is rooted in a dark part of America’s history that is widely ignored by the American public.
As for the team’s future name, it’s expected that we should begin to hear something as early as this week.
The iconic burgundy and gold colors are expected to remain a core part of Washington’s identity going forward.
Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.