The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted 6-3 Tuesday night to endorse a name change for the Ashburn-based Washington Redskins, with the board’s three Republicans opposing the measure.
At Tuesday’s business meeting, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Vice Chairman Koran Saines (D-Sterling) recommended the board send a letter encouraging Washington owner Dan Snyder to rename the NFL team.
The franchise, which practices and has its corporate headquarters in Ashburn, said last week it is undergoing a “thorough review.” The team plays its home games in Landover, Maryland.
The latest review comes in the wake of nationwide protests and rallies fighting against systemic racism and police brutality.
Supervisors Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said they don’t think the county’s governing body should be telling a private business based in Loudoun how to conduct its operations.
“I have a concern when government begins to tell private organizations what they should and shouldn’t do when there is no stake or partnership and there is no agreement in place between the government and that organization,” Letourneau said.
Kershner added, “I don’t think the board should be involving ourselves in these particular matters. This is a private matter. This is an entity that has already declared they are going to be looking into it themselves. I think it’s largely political and I don’t think it really helps the citizens of Loudoun.”
FedEx, the title sponsor of the Redskins’ stadium, announced last week it wants the team to change its name. FedEx said in a statement on July 2, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
The name “redskin” has been commonly seen as offensive and insulting to Native Americans dating back to the mid-18th century.
“I am very happy that they’re talking, which ... they have called a ‘thorough review,’” Randall said before the meeting. “I think it is appropriate to take the thorough review. I think the name is an inappropriate name, and I do not think that continuing to profit and benefit from the historical pain of all cultures is appropriate.”
Randall said it’s important for the board to weigh in on the issue considering Loudoun is home to the franchise’s corporate headquarters.
Saines said he hopes owner Dan Snyder will change the name.
“As a lifelong fan and former season ticket holder, I pray Mr. Snyder does the right thing and changes the name,” Saines said. “If he truly wants to honor Native Americans, he would work with their communities to select a new name that is not derogatory.”
Supervisor Juli Briskman (D-Algonkian) said that she would support a name change adding that “as America continues its reckoning with race, such steps as this will show change is possible.”
Snyder, who has opposed the move in the past, has had ongoing discussions with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the subject, according to multiple news outlets.
Snyder said in a prepared statement last week, “This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”