The Washington Football Team name change

Student’s opinions on the Washington Football Team getting a new name


The formerly-known Washington Redskins have been around since 1932 and adopted the name “Redskins” in 1937 when they relocated to Washington, D.C.  Before the relocation, they were in Boston, Massachusetts, and were called the “Boston Braves”, sharing a field with the baseball team of the same name, although both teams would end up leaving Boston.  The storied franchise has been through it’s ups and downs, winning 3 Super Bowls in the 1980s and early 1990s. 

The name “Redskins” has sparked controversy since the 1970s.  In 1972, a Native American legal information development service sent letters to the owner of the franchise saying that the name is offensive and perpetuated negative stereotypes of Native Americans. That was the first of many criticisms to come for the franchise.  According to a study done by Berkeley, 67% percent of Native Americans who regularly participate in Native or tribal culture found the logo and name offensive.  

“I think the name change is good,” sophomore Theo Mota-Clem said. “It’s good that it doesn’t offend people anymore.”  

The name was changed in July 2020 after a group of investors wrote letters to Nike, FedEx, PepsiCo, and other sponsors of the franchise, telling them to revoke their sponsorships if the name wasn’t changed.  Before that, on June 2, “Blackout Tuesday” was a day for people on social media to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  As the franchise posted on social media to show their support, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded with a tweet that said:  “Want to really support racial justice? Change your name.”  

This caused hundreds of people to comment on the team’s posts, continuing to put pressure on the franchise.  With all this controversy, Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo all threatened to drop the franchise if the name wasn’t changed.  Nike even removed all “Redskins” apparel from their website. 

 On July 3, the NFL announced it would review and investigate the name. Ten days later, they announced that the name “Redskins” would be retired and all logos would be changed prior to the 2020 NFL season.  Along with that announcement, the franchise said they would permanently change their name in 2022, with the name “Washington Football Team” being the placeholder.  

“I think it was great that they changed the name, but I don’t like the name Washington Football team” sophomore Andre Vassou said.  

The name “Washington Football Team” was met with more criticism and controversy.   Many felt it was lazy and boring. As the 2022 season approaches, the franchise is looking at multiple names to consider.  The main candidates for the new name are: Red Wolves, Redhawks, Armada, and Redtails.

“The Redhawks was the one I thought they should’ve picked because I think it suits them.” Vassou said. 

Along with the Washington Football team name change, there have been many changes to names across the United States.  Names of buildings, streets, sports teams and schools, names that have honored Confederate soldiers, slave owners, and racists.  The Cleveland Indians changed their name to Cleveland Guardians. Clay Park was changed to Zitkala-ša park.  The Chicago Blackhawks have experienced major controversy for their name and logo as well.  In 2015, they banned all Native American headdresses in their stadium that fans would wear to games.  The Atlanta Braves changed their logo because it featured a tomahawk, which was considered offensive.  Here at home, Washington-Lee was changed to Washington-Liberty in 2019 and Lee Highway was changed to Langston Blvd just this year

Social media has played a role in these name changes, as it allows many people to express their opinions and have their voices amplified.  With political tensions rising, these name changes have been met with much controversy and disagreement.  The Washington-Lee to Washington-Liberty name change was in an ongoing discussion for many years before being approved by the Arlington Public School board in 2019. 

“I think it kind of shows that U.S is growing,” sophomore Nicholas Pipenbring said. “It shows that we are moving away from anything offensive.”


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