It’s happening. . . .
Washington owner Dan Snyder is working on a name change for the team, coach Ron Rivera told The Washington Post in a Saturday interview. Rivera hopes the change can happen in the next two months.
“If we get it done in time for the season, it would be awesome,” Rivera told Les Carpenter.
Rivera indicated he and Snyder were discussing a name change even before sponsors such as FedEx, Nike and Pepsi applied pressure to eliminate a dictionary-defined racial slur. Snyder talked to NFL officials about it some 2 1/2 weeks ago, according to Rivera, and the owner is ready to make a change he once vowed would never happen.
The team issued a statement Friday, announcing it was conducting “a thorough review” of the name.
Rivera, who is on vacation, said Snyder has called him to discuss names. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins is among those who support Red Tails as the new name of the franchise.
Rivera did not share any of the possible team names he has discussed with Snyder.
“We came up with a couple of names,” Rivera said. “Two of them I really like.”
The most important criteria for a new name is that it respects Native American culture and traditions and also serves as a tribute to the military, Rivera said. Rivera is the son of an Army officer who grew up on military bases.
“We want to do this in a positive way,” Rivera said, adding they want to ensure the name won’t be “a joke.”
Rivera, who was hired Dec. 31, told a Chicago radio station last week that the team name was “a discussion for another time.” He clarified Saturday, saying he believes the death of George Floyd on May 25 and the protests that followed — the reason for his interview with the radio station — was a separate issue from the dispute over the team name. Rivera added that he did not want to discuss the issue with a radio station in another market.
But Rivera, one of only four minority coaches in the NFL, made clear in the interview with Carpenter that he believes it’s time for the team name to change.
“It was hard to fathom that it was in any way a racist thing, to be honest with you,” Rivera said rooting for the team during the time he spent in the Washington area as a kid. “Now, putting it in perspective, there’s been a change.
“My eyes are wide open.”