In 2014, 50 U.S. senators sent a letter to the N.F.L. urging the league to step in. And across the country, waves of universities and schools abandoned mascots and sports team names with Native American symbols.
But more than 2,200 high schools still use Native American imagery in their names or mascots, according to a database of mascot names.
All the while, Snyder, who purchased the Washington team in 1999, remained steadfast. “We will never change the name of the team,” he said in 2013, a stance he maintained even in the face of pushback from activists, politicians and some fans.
What finally changed was, seemingly, wider American society around the team. After the death of Floyd, there has been a widespread reconsideration of statues, flags, symbols and mascots considered to be racist or celebrating racist history.
Snyder’s move to drop his team’s name could pave the way for his effort to build a stadium inside the city, a potential relocation from its current site in a Washington, D.C. suburb. Lawmakers in the city had said they would not support his goal of building within the District unless he renamed the team.
Now that the team has let go of its current name, it will have to find a replacement, a process that requires navigating trademarks and the league’s many licensing deals with partners and which can often take years. Teams use their name, logos and colors to forge a new identity, a process that can include speaking with sponsors, fans and other constituents.
Ed O’Hara, who has designed team names and logos for more than 30 years, said that dropping the existing name first will buy time for Snyder to find a replacement. The team’s existing colors are unique and powerful, he said. A good name, though, should have an easy connection to a mascot, be easy to say and be connected to the market where the team plays.