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Redskins’ Name Review Follows Years of Protest

  • July 03, 2020

1997 Miami of Ohio changes its nickname from Redskins to Redhawks.

1999 The United States Patent and Trademark Office rules that the nickname “Redskins” is disparaging, and revokes the teams’ trademarks. But in 2003, the ruling is overturned on appeal.

Also in 1999, Daniel Snyder buys the team. Like his predecessor, Jack Kent Cooke, he resists calls to change the nickname, as do many of the team’s fans.

2013 A symposium at the Smithsonian on racial stereotypes in sports is critical of the nickname, sparking another round of scrutiny. The team defends itself in a series of articles on its website, noting that “many high school student-athletes have pride in calling themselves Redskins.”

President Obama said, “I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things.”

But Commissioner Roger Goodell says the nickname is a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

2014 The Patent Office again rules to cancel the Redskins’ trademark registrations. In 2017, the Supreme Court rules unanimously that the government may not deny a trademark for a potentially offensive name.

Also in 2014, the editorial board of The Washington Post joins several other newspapers in deciding not to use the name Redskins, although the paper’s news pages continue to use it. (The Portland Oregonian was one of the first to bar the name in 1991.)

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