Mr. Svrluga wasn’t alone. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) took to the radio to say that “it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people. . . . It deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team.” And, after the team participated in an effort this month to support Black Lives Matter by posting a black box on social media, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “Want to really stand for social justice? Change your name.”
Over the years, there have been many calls for the team to jettison its name because it is a slur that denigrates and disrespects Native Americans. Throughout, Mr. Snyder has been dismissive, if not downright contemptuous. “NEVER — you can use caps” he famously told USA Today in 2013 when he was asked about changing the name. But the breadth and intensity of the demands for an end to racial injustice that have gripped the country as the result of Mr. Floyd’s tragic death put a new edge to the debate and the demand for change.
Already, institutions across the board have been forced to take stock of how their practices and policies and — yes — even the names and symbols of their products have contributed to racial misunderstanding and prejudice. Quaker Oats announced it was getting rid of Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake mixes, and Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth seem sure to follow. On Friday, Events DC, which manages RFK Stadium in Washington, removed a statue of George Preston Marshall, who as owner of the local football team refused to allow black players for as long as he possibly could. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently admitted to — and apologized for — not listening to players about systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans. He also must know it is wrong for a team to have a name that the dictionary defines as a racial slur and that no one would ever use to address a person who is a Native American.
This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder — or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of “NEVER,” the NFL — should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history. Change the name. NOW.