Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who in recent months has suggested the Washington Redskins should change their name, did not refer to the Redskins by name during Tuesday’s State of the District Address. He referred to the Redskins as “our football team.”
In his address, Gray referenced the success of both the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Washington Redskins football team last year. Both teams made it to the playoffs in their respective sports. But while he referred to the Nationals by name, Gray did not do the same for the Redskins.
“Over the past year, both our baseball and football teams had breakthrough seasons – and have become great examples of teams coming into their own,” Gray said. “Both teams showed sustained excellence and brilliance that got them to postseason play – for the first time in franchise history for the Nationals, and for the first time in what seemed like an eternity for our football team.”
Last month, Gray said there should be discussions about changing the name of the Redskins.
“I think it has become a lightning rod, and I would be love to be able to sit down with the team … and see if a change should be made,” Gray said. “There’s a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing.”
As the Washington Post noted, the federal government essentially forced the Redskins to integrate when “Interior Secretary Stewart Udall threatened to deny the team the use of what would later be named RFK Stadium unless it integrated.” The Redskins did not field a black player until 1962.
Gray hinted the government could compel the Redskins to change their name when he, last month, referenced “the federal government, not the District, ultimately controls the land on which RFK Stadium now sits and on which a replacement football stadium would most likely be built.”