Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith suited up for Washington for the final four seasons of his 19-year career and said a name change for the NFC East team is “long overdue.”
He said as much during a conversation with TMZ Sports, pointing out “we’re not in 1960” and saying “it’s the right thing to do for a number of different reasons.”
Smith, who also played 15 seasons for the Buffalo Bills, continued, saying, “Money motivates all of us, to be quite honest with you, but socially and being on the right side of history is another motivating factor. I think both of those are present in this decision today.”
His comments come after the team announced Monday that it will officially change its nickname and logo following a “thorough review.”
Washington Redskins @Redskins
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he had “ongoing discussions” with team owner Dan Snyder and is “supportive of this important step,” per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Smith acknowledged financial reasons certainly impacted this decision in addition to the calls to change the racist name from a moral and social standpoint. Mary Emily O’Hara of Adweek reported 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion sent letters to companies such as FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo asking them to break ties with the team unless it changed its name.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx wrote in a statement, which is all the more notable because the company has naming rights to the stadium.
The name change also comes after 15 Native American advocates sent a letter to Goodell calling for the league to change the name, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).
The franchise had the nickname since 1933 when it played in Boston. It decided to keep the name upon relocating to Washington D.C. before the 1937 season.
Smith was glad to see the change even if he believes it should have come long ago.
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