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Unrivaled: Money Was Driving Force Behind Washington NFL Team Name Change

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - JULY 13: A worker carries building materials into the Hall of Fame Store at FedEx Field, home of the NFL's Washington Redskins team, July 13, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. The team announced Monday that owner Daniel Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working on finding a replacement for its racist name and logo after 87 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Washington “Redskins” name has been cut from the NFL’s vocabulary. Despite decades of protests against the racially charged mascot, it took sponsors threatening to pull dollars for the team to drop the name.

Daniel Snyder, the team’s owner, said back in 2013 that nothing would change his mind about renaming his Washington football club.

“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder told USA TODAY Sports. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”

“We’ll never change the name,” he said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Well, never reached its expiration date and Snyder is looking for a new team name for his Washington, D.C.-based franchise.

The pressure came from minority owners of the team and one that happens to be the CEO of FedEx which also bears the name on the side of the stadium. Nike, Amazon and Target removed their gear and the writing was on the wall.

Money Changes Things

There is no way Snyder could continue using the Redskins team name with the backlash and money clearly being lost, according to KSL Unrivaled. FedEx was trying to get out of its naming rights deal and if team apparel was being limited in national chains, the time had come.

KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry pointed this out on KSL Unrivaled as the press release regarding the name change made a clear point to mention sponsors.

“Every time they keep mentioning the name, they kept wanting to change the name they kept saying, ‘the sponsors, sponsors, and sponsors.’ It is because of just money in general,” Kirry said. “It was just resounding to me that they couldn’t help but put it in their press release and it was like, ‘money, money, money and that is the reason we are changing this.’

“I know it looks like an OK thing but socially and culturally this should have been talked about a long time ago. Having the hand forced is fine but saying right off the bat saying it is a money situation shows what it really is.”

There was one final jab from the Washington team in the press release. Despite saying Washington is retiring the team name, they still had seven mentions of “Redskins” in the tweet.

 

What Is In A Mascot Name?

The name of a pro sports franchise is to celebrate the area the team is from but sometimes the name doesn’t match the city. The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers are prime examples as the Jazz were originally from New Orleans and the Lakers from Minneapolis – the former locations make more sense than the current.

The Washington team name never made a ton of sense for many reasons, they first were the Boston Braves then changed to the mascot name to the “Redskins” and the name changed when the team moved from Boston to Washington, D.C., in 1937.

KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell offered his thoughts on names and logos on KSL Unrivaled. He thinks the Washington nickname was more of the history of the team, coaches, and players that played for that club. However, he acknowledged that the former name is offensive.

“I have always looked at this as something that is a term of endearment or a badge of honor. I have never looked at a mascot as meaning or the intent of it as derogatory,” Mitchell said. “When it is a derogatory term – or is viewed in some circles as a derogatory – because that is really what the Redskins name actually is to people today.”

Plain and simple if the name is offensive it should be changed. What Mitchell thinks about Washington is the history of the program, plus he feels there is a chance for this rebrand to be a positive thing.

“Me personally, I never thought of it that way. I thought of Joe Gibbs, the hogs, Jon Riggins, I thought of winning Super Bowls and doing it with class,” Mitchell added. “I always looked at this whole organization as a class organization and not as one that is belittling or being disrespectful to people.

“I am not opposed to the Washington Redskins changing their name because of the der0ogative term it implies. I think there is an opportunity to really make a statement and move forward and have a powerful name that people can rally behind.”

The new team name is still being worked on – part of that is due to a trademark squatter who has gobbled up many of the names that Washington is likely looking at using.

Tune into KSL Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast

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