After years of pushback, the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians are looking into changing their team names.
Washington and Cleveland each released statements Friday. Washington’s announcement came first, soon after investors asked key brands to end their relationship with the NFL team due to its racist nickname.
“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Washington owner Dan Snyder was quoted in the release.
“This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military,” new head coach Ron Rivera said in the statement.
The Washington franchise originated in 1932 as the Boston Braves. The name was changed to the Redskins in 1933, prior to moving to Washington, D.C. in 1937.
The Washington Post reported that minority owners Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar and Frederick W. Smith are seeking to sell their shares — which total about 40 percent of the team — because they are “not happy being a partner” with Snyder.
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Cleveland’s Friday night statement read, in part, “We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.
“We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.
“We recognize our unique place in the community and are committed to listening, learning, and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city and all those who support our team.”
The Associated Press reported that Cleveland manager Terry Francona supports moving on from the Indians, which has been the name since 1915.
“I know in the past, when we’ve been asked about, whether it’s our name or the Chief Wahoo, I think I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful,” Francona said Sunday. “And I still feel that way. But I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today. I think it’s time to move forward. It’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate.”
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