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Washington Redskins, under pressure from corporate sponsors, reviewing name

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN ImagesBy LAUREN LANTRY, ABC News

(ASHBURN, Va.) — The Washington Redskins announced Friday that the NFL football team will be “undergoing a thorough review of the team name” that Native Americans have long objected to as racially offensive.

In a statement, the team said the review “formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.”

It said it was doing so “in light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community.”

Previously, team owner Daniel Synder has said the team would never change its name, claiming it actually honored Native Americans.

But in just the past day or so, the team has come under heavy pressure from corporate sponsors to change the name, including from FedEx, which own the naming rights to the stadium where the Washington team plays in Landover, Maryland.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a short statement Thursday and on Thursday night Nike appeared to have removed Redskins merchandise available for sale online.

“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,” Snyder is quoted as saying in the statement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, “In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step,” according to NFL.com.

The new coach, Ron Rivera, is quoted in the team statement as saying, “This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Synder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”

“We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind,” the statement concludes.

Just last week, a memorial to the team’s founder, George Preston Marshall, an ardent segregationist. was removed from the team’s previous home field, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said any desire the team had to move back to that site or elsewhere in the city would face opposition because of the current name.

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