A fresh start for Washington football: Pressure and protest over allegedly racist name leads to team’s rebranding

Max Schwartz, Reporter

Amid a racial awakening in the U.S. due to the protests following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Washington’s NFL team chose to drop the “Redskins” name. While awaiting a complete rebranding of the team, the franchise is temporarily going under the name “Washington Football Team.”

For years, the name Redskins has come under intense scrutiny, as many consider the word to be a derogatory term towards Native Americans. In spite of this, Washington owner Daniel Snyder continually insisted that he would never change the name, as he claimed that the intention was to honor Native Americans, not demean them.

Despite attacks, few believed that Snyder would ever make this change. During his tenure as Washington’s owner, he has turned the franchise into a source of controversy on and off the field and is disliked by many of the fans.

However, as a result of increased racial sensitivity, multiple major corporations began threatening to end their relationship with the team unless a name change occurred. Snyder’s hands were tied, and he was forced to change the name.

While this was a tough pill to swallow for Washington fans, many felt that it needed to be done. Sophomore Benjamin Weiss, a lifelong Washington fan, had mixed feelings towards the move.

“I felt saddened when I heard the Washington Football Team was going to drop the name Redskins,” Weiss said. “I understood why the change had to be made, but it is still sad especially for a team with so much history.”

Due to legal trademark issues and the upcoming season rapidly approaching, the team was forced to find a temporary solution. They settled on the “Washington Football Team” as their new name, keeping the same burgundy and gold colors they have historically worn. The old logo, which displayed a Native American chief, was replaced with a gold “W.”

The fact that Washington does not have a true name has been a source of amusement for many in the sports world. Many famous sports personalities, such as Lebron James, laughed at the move as it was being announced. However, the fanbase seems to have rallied around the new name, including freshman Andrew Lefkowitz.

“In terms of the new name, I actually kind of like it for now. It makes us unique because we are the only team that goes by the ‘football team,’” Lefkowitz said.

Washington is now searching for a permanent replacement for the name, with the current name being a prime candidate. Many other potential names have been floating around such as red wolves, redbirds and warriors.

The cultural change that occurred in Washington has left many fans feeling hopeful about the future of this football team.

“I’m really excited about the future of this team,” Weiss said. “I hope they can continue to represent the pride and spirit of Washington, D.C.”

Additional reporting by reporter Sean Levitan