By the time they take the field this fall — that’s assuming there is a season given the coronavirus pandemic — the National Football League team in Washington, D.C., might have a new nickname.
“In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name,” the team said in a statement Friday morning. The brief statement, which itself included the word “redskins” seven times, also said the team had been discussing its name with the N.F.L. for weeks.
That a day could come when the team would change its name, which many consider to be a racist slur against Native Americans, has long seemed unfathomable. “We’ll never change the name,” Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, said in 2013. “It’s that simple. Never — you can use caps.”
The change to that ironclad stance came just one day after two prominent corporate sponsors, FedEx and Nike, began backing away from the team’s name, which quickly prompted others to follow suit on Friday.
Snyder has been steadfast in his insistence to keep the name, even in the face of governmental and activist pressure to change it. The one entity with enough influence to force the issue, the N.F.L., has always backed Snyder. Two years ago, N.F.L. commissioner Roger Goodell said that the team’s name should remain and that the league would not make him change it.
But in the last month, the ground underneath their feet has shifted. American society is undergoing a wide uprising over police brutality and systemic racism that flared after the killing of George Floyd in police custody, a widespread movement that has led to a reconsideration of statues, flags, symbols and mascots considered to be racist or celebrating racist history.