Washington, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- The National Football League franchise based in this capital said Thursday it will go by “Washington Football Team” pending the adoption of a permanent name in the future.
Earlier this month, that NFL organization said it would no longer call itself the Redskins nor use its decades-old logo of a two-feathered Native American warrior after mounting criticism of their alleged racist connotations.
The team’s color scheme (burgundy and gold) will remain the same, but for now the helmets will have no logo and only feature each player’s number in gold.
“Starting tomorrow and over the next 50 days, we will begin the process of retiring all Redskins branding from team properties whether it be FedExField, Redskins Park, other physical and digital spaces. We hope to complete this process in full by the team’s home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 13,” the franchise said in a statement Thursday on its website.
Washington added that it will debut its home uniforms in its Week 1 contest against the Eagles and its away uniforms in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.
The franchise said it made the decision to go by Washington Football Team in the upcoming season to allow time for “an in-depth branding process to properly include player, alumni, fan, community and sponsor input.”
Team owner Daniel Snyder previously had staunchly opposed calls to change the name and logo even though the term “redskins” is widely considered to be a racial slur.
But the decision was officially announced on July 13 after several of that NFL franchise’s sponsors – delivery services company FedEx, title sponsor of the team’s stadium; sporting goods giant Nike; beverage, food and snack titan Pepsi; and Bank of America – pressured for the changes.
Advocates for the rights of the Native American community had long called for the name switch, but the pressure grew in the wake of the mass anti-racism protests that followed the May 25 death of an African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
Already in June, the Washington team cut ties with the legacy of George Preston Marshall, the owner of the franchise from its inception in 1932 in Boston until his death in 1969, taking away his statue at FedEx Field and removing his name and image from both the stadium’s Ring of Fame and the team’s website.
Marshall refused to sign African-American players until he was obligated to do so in 1962, more than a decade after most of the league’s other teams had already taken that step.
The franchise initially was known as the Boston Braves, but Marshall changed its name to the Redskins in 1933 when the team relocated to Fenway Park and started sharing a stadium with the Boston Red Sox, a Major League Baseball team.
Due to a lack of fan support in New England, Marshall relocated the franchise in 1937 to Washington DC.
The franchise used logos with indigenous imagery dating back to 1933, but the Redskins logo that fans today associate with the team dates back to 1971 and was designed in consultation with Native American leaders.
Three US professional baseball franchises – the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers – also are being called upon to change their names.
In the case of the Braves and Indians, their names are considered by many to be racially insensitive to Native Americans.
The Texas franchise, meanwhile, is facing growing pressure to change its name after a new book on the Texas Rangers, a storied state law enforcement agency, detailed their history of “savagery, lawlessness and racism” targeting Native Americans, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
Both the Braves and Rangers have said they have no plans to change their teams’ names, but the Indians’ organization said earlier this month that it is “committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
US President Donald Trump earlier this month said teams should not give into pressure to change their names.
“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,” he tweeted on July 6. EFE-EPA