Washington Redskins confirm name change

Trump loses battle in 'culture war' as Washington NFL team will drop Redskins name

'They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness,' president tweeted earlier this month

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Monday 13 July 2020 15:39

Donald Trump suffered a loss Monday in his self-proclaimed "culture war" when Washington's NFL franchise announced it will retire the team name Redskins and logo of a Native American that some found offensive.

Team owner Daniel Snyder decided to drop the name after several major sponsors, including FedEx and PepsiCo, said they would pull out of lucrative deals with the team unless the name was dropped. The companies acted amid ongoing racial unrest that was triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man, under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The president, as he does on almost every national issue, injected himself into the team's name controversy years ago. First he criticised then-President Barack Obama for suggesting Mr Syder should drop Redskins. Then, on 6 July, three days after the franchise announced it was "reviewing" its name, Mr Trump urged team officials to resist pressure to change it.

"They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct," the president wrote earlier this month. "Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!"

Sports radio stations in Washington on Monday took calls from fans who were all over the spectrum. Some were irate, some resigned to the change, and others said Mr Snyder had done too much damage to his fan base over the years for a new moniker to draw them back in.

Those same sports shows speculated after the team's 3 July announcement about when the president would weigh in. Their answer came at 1.13pm on the third day of the club's review.

The same day, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied that her boss sees the country's moment of racial tensions as a culture war – only to be contradicted by her boss days earlier.

"This July 4th, the president said, 'Our movement is based on lifting all citizens to reach their fullest God-given potential. Never forget: We are one family and one nation...We will teach our children to cherish and adore their country so...they can build its future,'" she said in a prepared opening statement at the start of a press briefing.

"This vision is not a culture war, as the media seeks to falsely proclaim," she said. "It's an embrace of our American family, our values, our freedom, and our future."

But in an interview with RealClearPolitics that published just two days later, the president said otherwise.

"We are in a culture war," Mr Trump said. "If the Republicans don't toughen up and get smart and get strong and protect our heritage and protect our country, I think they're going to have a very tough election."

He also warned about what he called "a new far-left fascism" and a "left-wing cultural revolution."

The president sees issues like the Redskins name as part of this "culture war."

He lost a battle in that self-described conflict on Monday amid tumbling poll numbers in key battleground states, including typically red Georgia, where he will visit on Wednesday.

"As part of this [review] process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward," Washington's NFL franchise, which has yet to announce a new name, said in a statement. "Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review."

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