Ron Rivera Dismisses Redskins Name Change as 'Discussion for Another Time'

Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera has poured cold water on the suggestion that the franchise could change its name, claiming that was a "discussion for another time."

The franchise's name has long been a source of controversy. In the late 1960s Native American groups began efforts to put an end to harmful stereotypes and images of Native American culture and called for the team to drop its reference to Native America and change its logo.

After Washington triumphed in Super Bowl XXVI—the franchise's third Lombardi Trophy in a decade—a Native American group filed a petition to have the nickname removed from trademark. While a federal appeals board sided with the petitioners, the Redskins appealed the ruling.

Speaking to 670 The Score's McNeil & Parkins Show on Monday Rivera was non-committal on the issue.

"I think that's a discussion for another time," he said when asked whether the franchise should drop its Redskins moniker.

"I feel that for a guy of my age and my era, the name of the Washington Redskins was always part of football."

A number of professional and collegiate teams have removed Native American references in their name or logo. The Arkansas State University Indians became the Red Wolves after the NCAA announced in 2005 that it would ban all teams whose mascot names were considered "hostile or abusive" from playing in the postseason, while Miami University in Ohio changed its teams' nickname from Redskins to Redhawks.

While the Florida State Seminoles and NHL franchise Chicago Blackhawks have retained references to Native Americans, in 2019 the Cleveland Indians dropped Chief Wahoo from their uniforms, stating that the logo was no longer appropriate.

Earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the Redskins for taking part in "BlackOutTuesday," on social media.

The initiative saw teams, leagues and people across the world post a blank, black photo to demand justice for George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

She added that if the NFL franchise really wanted to help change social justice, it should start by changing its name, despite the fact that in 2013 team owner Dan Snyder stated he would never agree to such a move.

When pressed on whether the time was right for the franchise to change its name, Rivera stressed the importance of seizing the moment and doing the right thing.

"It's all about the moment and the timing," he continued.

"But I'm just somebody that's from a different era when football wasn't such a big part of the political scene. That's one of the tough things, too, is I've always wanted to keep that separate."

While the team's name remains a thorny issue, earlier this month the Redskins joined the list of teams and colleges severing ties with their racist past.

Events DC, the capital's convention and sports authority, removed a monument to Redskins franchise founder George Preston Marshall from outside Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the venue which served as the Redskins home between 1961 and 1996.

One of just four minority coaches in the NFL, earlier this month Rivera suggested he would support his players if they decided to kneel during the national anthem in the upcoming season.

His comments came after a number of NFL players have pledged to emulate Colin Kaepernick and take a knee when the season begins on September 10.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback first knelt during the anthem to protest against police brutality and racial inequality in 2016.

Following George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 and the return to prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the NFL has acknowledged it has not done enough to heed black players' calls for justice.

In what could be a watershed moment for the sport, league commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month expressed solidarity with the protesters and urged players to protest peacefully this season.

Many, including Washington's running back Adrian Peterson, plan to make their voices heard. The 13-season veteran said he would "no doubt" kneel during the national anthem.

Speaking on Monday, Rivera insisted he was happy to steer clear of politics but reiterated his support for his players and the Black Lives Matter movement.

"People have wanted me to get in politics while I'm coaching and I keep telling them, 'It's not for me to get up there and influence people'

"I have my beliefs, I know what I think, I support the movements, support the players. I believe in what they're doing. There are certain elements to certain things. It's all about the timing and the best time to discuss those things."

Washington Redskins, NFL
A general view of the Washington Redskins logo at center field before a game between the Detroit Lions and Redskins at FedExField on November 24, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. Patrick McDermott/Getty