If the Washington Redskins ever want to return to the city of D.C., the team will need to seriously consider changing its name.
That was the message sent by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, following a press conference Wednesday. Gray said that the team, which lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild-card game Sunday, must consider a name change if it is serious about moving from FedEx Field in Landover, Md., to a stadium inside D.C. proper, according to Yahoo! Sports.
“I think that if they get serious with the team coming back to Washington, there’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a discussion about that,” Gray said, according to the Washington Post. "I think it has become a lightning rod, and I would be love to be able to sit down with the team … and see if a change should be made. There’s a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing.”
For decades, the team name has been a controversial issue. Some call the "Redskins" moniker nothing short of a racial slur. Others argue that the team's name, which dates back to the 1930s, is tradition and does not need to be changed. In 1992, a quarter century after the name was formally trademarked, a group of Native Americans filed a disparagement lawsuit against the brand, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The suit was dismissed in 2009, when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, but calls have continued for the team's current owner, Dan Snyder, to approve a name change.
In October, the D.C.'s alternative weekly, the Washington City Paper, announced it would no longer print the team's official name, which the publication said was a "pejorative term for Native Americans." After an online reader poll, the City Paper began referring to the team as the Washington Pigskins.
Snyder, however, remains unswayed.
If the pro football team were to change its name, the organization would join a growing list of sports teams that have already ditched the name. For example, The Monitor reports that between 1991 and 2008, 11 high schools and two colleges stopped using the name Redskins for their teams.