Yielding to mounting pressure from sponsors and advocacy groups, the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced Monday that they are changing their name.
The team’s Jewish owner, Daniel Snyder, had adamantly refused to consider a name change for years, despite criticism that the name might be considered offensive by some. The Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement had both repeatedly called on the team to make a change.
Facing a possible revolt from corporate sponsors, the team said early this month that it was undertaking a review of the name.
“Today, we are announcing that we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,” the team said Monday in a statement. “Dan Snyder and Coach [Ron] Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.”
Snyder’s Jewishness has regularly come up in debates over the name. In 2013, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in defending Snyder’s refusal to change the name, said it was “a real mistake to think that Dan, who is Jewish, has a lack of sensitivity regarding somebody’s feelings.” Days later, the satirical newspaper The Onion used a string of anti-Semitic slurs including the word "kike" in skewering Snyder.
The same year, the ADL’s former national director, Abraham Foxman, called for sports teams to move away from “the use of hurtful and offensive names, mascots and logos.” In 2015, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, in a letter to Snyder, said the name “blatantly mocks a culture that struggles to survive.”