An online petition calling for the Washington Commanders to change the franchise’s name back to the Washington Redskins has garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
The petition, backed by the Native American Guardians Association, asks the Commanders to “reconsider” its recent name change and restore the “original” name. The Burgundy and Gold were named the Boston Braves when founded in 1932, but the moniker was changed a year later to Redskins. The franchise retired the Redskins name and logo in 2020 amid social and corporate backlash.
As of Thursday morning, the petition had 113,508 supporters.
“The name ‘Commanders’ fails to capture the essence, tradition, and historical weight associated with the Redskins,” the petition reads. “It lacks the uniqueness, emotional connection, and pride that our team’s original name embodies. The change to ‘Commanders’ dilutes our team’s identity and weakens the connection with its devoted fanbase.
“By restoring the Redskins name, we reinstate a symbol of unity, strength, and shared identity that has inspired generations of fans.”
The petition has picked up steam in recent weeks, in part because the Commanders have new owners. Josh Harris, who bought the team for $6.05 billion, repeatedly referenced the Redskins in sharing how he grew up a fan of the team in Maryland. Limited partner Magic Johnson said in a television interview that “everything’s on the table” with regard to another name change. Harris has said his group has other priorities first.
Even with Harris, the possibility the Commanders go back to the Redskins remains highly unlikely. The name is still divisive, deemed by many as offensive to American Indians.
In 2020, Washington’s name change was spurred on largely by corporate sponsors threatening to pull and actually pulling support from the franchise. Retailers such as Nike, Target and Amazon pulled Redskins-related merchandise from online, while FedEx — the team’s stadium sponsor whose CEO was then a Redskins minority owner — urged Washington to retire the name.
“For nearly 90 years, this franchise had a different name, and fans and our new owners alike have fond memories of cheering for that team and watching it win three Super Bowls,” a Commanders spokesperson said in a statement earlier this month. “Making a historical reference to watching and rooting for the Redskins does not signify a shift nor does it change the reasons for dropping the name.”
Despite the statement, the Native American Guardians Association has continued to push the petition. The group, made up of tribal and non-tribal members, sent a letter to the Commanders earlier this month that threatened a boycott “similar to what happened with Anheuser Busch (Bud Light)” if the name isn’t restored — a reference to the beer giant’s decline in sales following backlash to the company’s marketing campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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