A name change for the Washington Redskins was once something that owner Daniel Snyder forcefully said would never happen. Over the last two days, it has become clear that it is only a question of when, not if, a Redskins name change will come this point.
On Friday, the franchise put out a statement, saying that it will undergo a “thorough review” of the issue. That step was taken after FedEx, name sponsor of the team’s stadium, and apparel giant Nike both called for the name to be changed. Nike pulled all Redskins gear off of its online store.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter laid things out pretty plainly in his tweet about the team’s statement. “And let’s be clear: There’s no review if there’s no change coming,” he wrote. A change is widely being treated as inevitable, and it could come very soon.
Washington Post reporter Mark Maske tweeted that a source said that a change could “potentially” come as early as this season. Today, head coach Ron Rivera told the local paper that making a move in time for the 2020 season would be “awesome.” He admitted that he’s been in discussions with Snyder about a change for over a month.
Ron Rivera says he and Dan Snyder have been talking about a possible name change for more than a month, and “If we get it done in time for the season, it would be awesome.” (Via @Lescarpenter) https://t.co/Ofpmu1kFHO
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) July 5, 2020
“We came up with a couple of names — two of them I really like,” Rivera told reporter Les Carpenter. Per the report, and the team’s statement on Friday, Rivera wants a new name to be both respectful of Native Americans, and a tribute to the military. He would not reveal what the names are.
Among the most popular options for a Redskins name change is the Washington Redtails, an option that has been floated for years now. The name is a reference to the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American Air Force pilots who valiantly served in World War II. That would certainly fit the second criteria, and would turn the nickname from a racist slur into a tribute to Black military heroes.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins came out in support of the name, if the team makes a change, earlier today.
Rivera, who spent part of his childhood in the Washington-area, says that while he liked the name growing up, his views on it have changed. He believes the same of Snyder, a fervent defender of the name since he bought the team in 1999.
“It was hard to fathom that it was in any way a racist thing, to be honest with you,” he said. “Now, putting it in perspective, there’s been a change.”
He said he believes the name should change.
“My eyes are wide open,” he said.
When asked whether Snyder believes the same thing, Rivera said he thinks so, based on their conversations.
Clearly, Rivera has significant influence for a head coach entering his first year with a team, and he says that these conversations started weeks ago. It seems like an imminent name change in time for the 2020 season is very much in play.