News & Politics

Poll: 25 Percent of Football Fans Think Redskins Should Change Their Name

Photograph by Flickr user Kevin Coles.

A mostly successful regular season did much to quiet calls for Washington’s NFL team to change its name, but the percentage of football fans who think the franchise needs a rebranding has actually increased slightly, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling.

Twenty-five percent of people surveyed say the team should change its name from its current moniker, which is commonly defined as a derogatory term for Native Americans, while 64 percent say it should remain as-is. The last time PPP polled on the Washington team’s name, in 2014, just 18 percent said it should change.

But the political and demographic breakdowns show some groups tilting much more against the team’s name. While the 29 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans who think Dan Snyder give up his grip on saying his franchise will “never” change its name are not very compelling, 34 percent of independents now say he should.

The split along racial lines is more telling: Just 15 percent of white NFL fans included in the poll agreed with a name change, with 77 percent opposed. But a 47 percent plurality of non-white respondents said the Washington team should get a new name.

The poll is unlikely to have much impact, though, and not just because of Snyder’s oft-quoted intransigence. While a lawsuit from Native American activists seeking to invalidate the team’s trademark protections had made it through multiple rungs of the federal court system, a ruling last December in a separate trademark case found that “disparaging” brand names are still protected under the First Amendment, leading intellectual-property lawyers to predict the suit against the Washington NFL team will be dismissed.

Even if the team’s current legal tussles are resolved, its name remains a point of contention as Snyder seeks to move the club out of FedEx Field in Landover. Both the District and Virginia have started making plays to land the team, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has said that the team returning to the city is likely to be conditional upon a name change, while Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has not. While Snyder has retained the high-profile Bjarke Ingels Group to design a new stadium, a decision on where to relocate is unlikely to happen in 2016, the Washington Post reported this week.

The PPP survey also had a bit of news for Baltimore Ravens fans, too, but not very uplifting: Only 21 percent of NFL fans consider Joe Flacco to be an elite quarterback.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.