Navajo Nation President Offers Washington NFL Team a 'Redskins' Replacement

The NFL's Washington franchise got pushed and nudged to change its nickname for more than half a century. The tactics by protestors and boycotters had little effect. But within the last few weeks, the team finally got strongarmed into nixing both the "Redskins" and their logo.

Now the team formally known as the Washington Redskins, which announced Monday it was retiring both the nickname and logo, is looking for a new moniker. Popular options floating around include Redtails and Red Wolves.

Jonathan Nez, who is the Navajo Nation president, offered up a suggestion: the "Washington Code Talkers."

Nez said in a press release that Monday (July 13) was historic, and that the NFL team could help further educate fans by naming their team after a group of Native Americans who worked "to help win World War II."

"July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging 'Redskins' team name and logo," Nez said. "Renaming the team the 'Code Talkers' to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II, would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples."

Navajo Marines famously used their own language, which could not be decoded by the Japanese, to help the American military locate Pacific battlefields during the war.

About 400 Navajos joined the U.S. Marines to help slug it out during the Pacific Theater of the war. This included fierce battles at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Washington Redskins
JoJo Houston wears a Washington Redskins face mask while helping Martha's Tabel distribute hundreds of free hot meals donated by the Clyde's Restaurant Group to people in need during the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many people out of work and unable to reach healthy food, April 01, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins first became an NFL franchise in 1932. Daniel Snyder, the team's current owner, vowed in 2013 he would never change the team's name. Things changed over the last six weeks, along with other social justice and racial equality measures, that led the franchise to even considering changing its name.

In the first week of July, a group of 87 investors and shareholders wrote letters to three of the team's top sponsors—FedEx, Nike and Pepsi—urging them to pull sponsorship dollars unless the team changed its name.

On July 2, FedEx demanded the team change its name from Redskins. That's largely important because FedEx holds the naming rights to the team's stadium, and the company could pull it sponsorship worth many millions of dollars if the team didn't comply. The deal over the years was worth $205 million, and it is set to expire in 2025.

A few hours after that, Nike pulled all Washington Redskins merchandise from its website. Nike still carries gear from all other 31 teams in the NFL.

Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Target have also stopped Redskins merchandise and gear. Amazon also pulled most Redskins merchandise from its site before the team officially dropped its name.

PepsiCo had also been in discussions about the name change.

The team announced on July 3 that it was reviewing its name. Daniel Snyder owns the majority of the Washington franchise, and the other three co-owners stated they were "not happy being a partner." The Washington Redskins are worth about $3.4 billion, according to Forbes' latest calculations. That ranks seventh in the National Football League.

Navajo Nation President Offers Washington NFL Team a 'Redskins' Replacement | Sports