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Washington Redskins to change name and logo; Atlanta Braves reviewing 'chop' gesture but won't change name


By Andy Gardner

An NFL team that goes by an anti-Native slur will change their name, and a second Major League Baseball team has said they will review their controversial celebration gesture, but don’t appear to be ready to change their name.

The NFL’s Washington Redskins announced Monday, July 13 that they will change their name and logo.

Although they haven’t announced a new name and logo, they will drop the term Redskins amid a global outcry against systemic racism that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer in May. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with murder, in addition to being removed from the force.

The Washington team appears to be ready to change their name in the wake of pressure from sponsors.

FedEx, who owns naming rights to the stadium in Maryland where the team plays home games, made an official request to the team to change their name, NBC News reported earlier this month. They have a $205 million deal to the naming rights that runs until 2025, ESPN reported.

“That came after Adweek reported that 87 investment firms and shareholders worth $620 billion sent a letter urging the shipping company, Nike and PepsiCo to stop doing business with the team until the name was changed,” NBC News reported. “Amazon last week joined Target and Walmart in refusing to carry merchandise bearing the name.”

All of this follows comments made in 2013 by the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, who at the time told USA Today that he would “never change the name.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted a statement on July 3 saying the league is “supportive of this important step.”

Meanwhile in MLB, the Atlanta Braves won’t change their name but have emailed season ticket holders saying that will examine the future of their “tomahawk chop” celebration.

ESPN reported the letter to season ticket holders reads:

“The Atlanta Braves honors, respects and values the Native American community,” the letter says in part. “As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change.

“We have had an active and supportive relationship with the Native American community for many years. Last fall, we furthered this relationship and pledged to meet and listen to Native American and tribal leaders from many areas, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokees [EBCI] in North Carolina. As a result, we formed a cultural working relationship with the EBCI and have also formed a Native American Working Group with a diverse collection of other tribal leaders to collaborate on matters related to culture, education, outreach, and recognition on an on-going basis.

“Through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary. We have great respect and reverence for our name and the Native American communities that have held meaningful relationships with us do as well. We will always be the Atlanta Braves.

“As it relates to the fan experience, including the chop, it is one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group. The chop was popularized by our fans when Deion Sanders joined our team and it continues to inspire our players on the field. With that in mind, we are continuing to listen to the Native American community, as well as our fans, players, and alumni to ensure we are making an informed decision on this part of our fan experience.”

Also, in Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians with their “Chief Wahoo” mascot are also looking at their name.

A recent statement from the franchise is “committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks are also saying they will stick by their current team name and logo.

“The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the team said in a recent statement.


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