Washington NFL team to do 'thorough review' of name, opening door to change

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that he is "supportive of this important step."

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By Minyvonne Burke

The Washington NFL team said Friday they will do a "thorough review" of the team's name, which has long been condemned as an anti-Indigenous slur.

The news comes a day after FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the field where the team plays, requested that the team change its name.

"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," the team said in a statement.

Team owner Dan Snyder said he wants to take into account the "proud tradition and history of the franchise" but also wants to include input from others including the organization, the community and the National Football League.

“This issue is of personal importance to me and 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 head coach Ron Rivera in a statement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that he is "supportive of this important step."

PepsiCo, a partner of the team, said it had been in talks with the NFL and the team's management for the past several weeks about the name.

"We believe it is time for a change. We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The announcement drew some reactions on social media. Sportswriter Adam Schefter, an NFL insider for ESPN, tweeted that "there’s no review if there’s no change coming."

"Redskins on way out," he added.

ESPN fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry celebrated the news. "Great to hear and I’m happy the team is taking this important step. Will still be my team regardless of what they are called," he tweeted.

The team has been under mounting pressure to change the name. Adweek reported earlier this week that 87 investment firms and shareholders worth $620 billion sent a letter urging PepsiCo, Nike and FedEx to cut ties with the football team unless it agreed to change its name.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser acknowledged last month that the team's name has been a roadblock in getting the city its own stadium. The team's home stadium is FedExField in Maryland.

"I think it's past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people," Bowser recently said on Washington radio station WTEM. "And this is a great franchise with a great history that's beloved in Washington, and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we've built for the team."

In 2014, the U.S. Patent Office canceled several of the team's trademarks, ruling that the name was "disparaging to Native Americans." The team was able to get the trademark back after the Supreme Court struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks.

According to NPR, the word "redskin" was transformed into a derogatory reference for Native Americans. Initially, Native Americans used the word as a self-identifier during negotiations with the French, but it later became a slur after non-Indigenous colonizers began to use it in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Doha Madani contributed.