Ron Rivera and Dan Snyder are closing in on a new team name.
The Washington head coach indicated to the Washington Post on Saturday that the two have discussed new team names behind closed doors, even before FedEx and other sponsors began to put pressure on the organization for using a racial slur as a mascot, and that Snyder spoke to NFL officials two-and-a-half weeks ago about making the change.
“If we get it done in time for the season, it would be great,” Rivera said.
Rivera, who was hired by Washington earlier this year after nine seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers and is one of only four minority coaches in the NFL, said Snyder had called him to discuss different names. The organization is looking for a new name that would respect Native American culture and also serve as a tribute to the military.
“We came up with a couple of names,” Rivera said. “Two of them I really liked.”
Rivera did not disclose any of the options he discussed with Snyder. One suggestion quarterback Dwayne Haskins had on Twitter would be to change the name to the Washington Red Tails – the nickname the Tuskegee Airmen had called themselves during World War II.
“We want to do this in a positive way,” Rivera added.
Rivera was asked about the team name early last week during an appearance with 670 The Score in Chicago, in which he said it was a “discussion for another time.”
He clarified on Saturday that he felt the protests that followed the death of George Floyd was a separate issue from the team name controversy and that he preferred not to discuss it with a station in a different market.
On Thursday, FedEx – which holds naming rights to the stadium – threatened to pull its sponsorship while others followed suit, leading to Washington to release a statement on Friday that it was conducting a “thorough review” of the team name.
Some reports suggest a new team name could come before training camp starts on July 25 or as early as next week.
Snyder has spent his time as owner defending the team name, but a change is now inevitable.