Washington NFL team to change name in reaction to George Floyd protestors.

Native American advocacy groups praised the team’s decision to retire its name and mascot, long criticized as racist caricatures. Photo: Delano Scott, licensed under creative commons.

Author: Sam Buisman

The Washington Redskins football team will change its name in reaction to the nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

The team announced through a Monday morning press release that it will retire its name and mascot, which have been criticized for decades by Native Americans and civil rights groups as racist stereotypes. This decision results from an internal review of the team’s namesake launched on July 3 amidst sweeping protests for George Floyd and racial justice that renewed interest in this controversy.

The National Congress of American Indians praised the team’s decision in a press release.

“We commend the Washington NFL team for eliminating a brand that disrespected, demeaned, and stereotyped all Native people,” wrote the organization, “and we call on all other sports teams and corporate brands to retire all caricatures of Native Americans that they use as their mascots.”

Academic research finds that stereotypical mascots of Native Americans reinforce racist biases against them, which restricts opportunities and damages the mental health of Native people while reducing Native culture.

As of press time, the NFL has not weighed in on the team’s announcement, but Commissioner Rodger Goodell expressed support for its internal review earlier this month.

While the team has not revealed its new name, according to the Associated Press, sports betting websites give the best odds to the new name being the “Red Tails,” a nod to the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII.