Phil Ellsworth / ESPN ImagesBy LAUREN LANTRY, ABC News
(ASHBURN, Va.) -- The Washington Redskins, the NFL football team representing the nation’s capital, announced Friday it would begin a “thorough review” of its controversial name that Native Americans have long objected to as racially offensive.
In a statement the team said the decision was made “in light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community" and it comes after a month of protests calling for racial justice and equality.
“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,” owner Dan Snyder said in a statement.
Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, has previously said the team would "never" change the name, arguing it actually honored Native Americans.
In the last few days, though, the team has come under heavy public pressure from corporate sponsors to change its name, including from FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the stadium where the Washington team plays in Landover, Maryland.
On Thursday, FedEx announced that it had communicated with the team “our request that they change the team name.”
It wasn’t just FedEx calling for the change. Investors and shareholders of the team's other corporate sponsors, Nike and PepsiCo, had called on the team to act. According to Adweek, on Wednesday 87 investment firms and shareholders wrote to the three major companies, requesting they terminate their relationship with the team unless it changed the name.
“We have been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue,” a PepsiCo spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “We believe it is time for a change. We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership.”
And on Thursday, Nike appeared to have removed all of the Washington team’s merchandise from its online store.
With the national conversation about race dominating headlines, the National Football League was quick to support Snyder's review.
“In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said, according to the AP.
The team’s statement said the announcement “formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.”
For many, changing the name is long overdue.
“This is a broader movement now that’s happening that Indigenous peoples are part of,” Carla Fredericks, director of First Peoples Worldwide, told Adweek. “Indigenous peoples were sort of left out of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s in many respects, because our conditions were so dire on reservations and our ability to engage publicly was very limited because of that. With social media now, obviously everything is very different.”
There is a long history of opposition. In 1972, a delegation of Native American leaders met with then-team president Edward Bennett Williams, urging him to change the name. Instead, the team changed lyrics in its trademark Indian-themed fight song – replacing "scalp 'um" with "beat 'em."
The team has also faced trademark protection lawsuits over its name -- one of the latest ending in 2018. The lawsuit was dropped because the Supreme Court ruled in a separate case, Matal v. Tam, that under the First Amendment, the U.S. government cannot deny trademark protection over potentially offensive speech.
Amanda Blackhorse, one of the plaintiffs at the center of that lawsuit, says she's not going to thank the team for something that should have been done decades ago.
"I'm happy that there's talk about changing," Blackhorse told ABC News. "It feels like a half-step in the right direction. But I do hope that it does change."
Blackhorse said she's calling on the team to completely rebrand, saying it needs need to remove all images and logos relating to Native Americans. She said she also hopes the team will continue donating to Native American schools, if it does change the name.
Blackhorse said she never thought this day would come, thinking it would be "up to the next generation." She credits the Black Lives Matter movement for igniting the change, and for investors pressuring the team.
"Native people have been calling for this for decades," Blackhorse said. "And FedEx calls for it one day, and the next day it's almost done. So, who really has the power here? Whose voice is really respected? I know it's not us."
“This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military,” Ron Rivera, the team's new head coach, was quoted as saying in the team statement. He is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and the only Hispanic coach in the NFL.
A monument to team founder George Preston Marshall was removed last month from the site of RFK Stadium where the team used to play in the District of Columbia.
According to the Associated Press, Marshall’s granddaughter supported the team's review of its name.
“I think if anybody’s offended that they should change the name,” Wright said. “I’ve always felt that way.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said that if the team wants to relocate to the city, it could face strong opposition because of the name controversy.
"We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind," the team statement concluded.
(NEW YORK) -- Major League Baseball is back as the league's summer camp has officially kicked off.
With baseball's return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is establishing several changes to player conduct and protocol to maintain and monitor the health and safety of the athletes. Watch the full report from ABC's Good Morning America:
(NEW YORK) -- WNBA star Maya Moore fell to her knees when, after 22 years in prison, Jonathan Irons walked out of Jefferson City Correctional Center a free man on Wednesday.
"In that moment I just -- I really felt like I could rest," Moore told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. "I mean I've been standing and we've been standing for so long -- it was an unplanned moment where I just felt relief ... it was kind of a worshipful moment just dropping to my knees and being so thankful that we made it."
"I'm absolutely elated and thankful just to be here in this moment right now," Irons said.
The basketball star, who has won four WNBA championships with the Minnesota Lynx and a WNBA MVP title, stepped away from the game at the height of her career to focus full time on helping Irons overturn his conviction.
"When I stepped away two springs ago, I just really wanted to shift my priorities to be able to be more available and present to show up for things that I felt were mattering more than being a professional athlete," Moore said.
Moore and Irons formed a close friendship in 2007, before her freshman year at the University of Connecticut, when she met him through a prison ministry in which her extended family in Missouri participated.
When Irons was 16 years old, he was tried and convicted as an adult by an all-white jury for the burglary and shooting at the home of 38-year-old Stanley Stotler. Irons maintained his innocence while he was in prison, saying he was wrongly identified during the lineup.
After years of fighting, a Missouri judge overturned Irons' conviction in March, saying there were problems with the way the case had been investigated and tried -- including a fingerprint report that would've proved Irons' innocence, not being turned over to his defense team.
While Irons, now 40, has spent most of his life in prison for a crime he didn't commit, he said he doesn't feel resentment toward the man who wrongly identified him, and said that Stotler is a "victim" as well.
"I believe at some point if not already, maybe later on, he's going to be hit with a lot of guilt," Irons said. "I want to let him know that he has a safe place to rest because I do forgive him. I don't blame him or fault him in any way."
Irons wants to help others in the same situation.
"I want to be able to reach back and help other people. I want to advocate for people who are less fortunate. I want to help people with their cases. I want to speak to positive change and be a part of the rebuilding process from where we're at right now because there's so much greater coming in the horizon and I see it," Irons said.
As for Moore, she's not sure if her future will bring her back to the basketball court, but for now she is going to enjoy some rest.
An incredible moment....Jonathan Irons is freed from prison! @MooreMaya dropped to her knees in gratitude. She, her family and others fought tirelessly for his release. Tomorrow morning Jonathan and Maya will join us LIVE on @GMA 🙏🏾❤️ https://t.co/LGrmKT9xJH
"For the first time in my adult life I'm trying to live in the moment," Moore said. " I haven't really been able to have the fullness of the rest that I wanted ... now is the time to take a break then seeing what the future holds, maybe around sometime next spring."
For those looking to join the fight for criminal justice reform, Moore offers some advice.
"The first step for anybody is ... I would say get to know somebody who isn't exactly like you and doesn't come from the same background as you, educate yourself and then just keep showing up," Moore said. "Finding ways to show up for people and your voice will come out of that relationship and out of your pursuit to seeing people who aren't exactly like you."
Irons hopes that his story will serve as inspiration for others to keep fighting.
"We shouldn't give up. We should keep going," Irons said. "In this moment I want people to have hope from this story because we're in dark times. And we got to keep going. We got to keep the faith."
(NEW YORK) -- At 18, Rajah Caruth already has a trophy case filled with medals and awards from competitive driving, from races all over the country.
He's just getting started.
The soon-to-be Winston-Salem State University freshman already has his NASCAR license, and he has big dreams to become one of the sport's top drivers like Bubba Wallace, whom he considers a role model.
But the journey for Caruth, like for most African American drivers, hasn't been easy. Caruth didn't grow up in a racing family, had no connections and didn't know much about how to make his dream a reality. Most of what he knew about racing came from being a fan of cartoon characters like Lighting McQueen and Speed Racer.
Caruth attended his first race in middle school.
"That really flipped the switch," he said. "That was the point where I realized that this is what I want to do, this is what I want to put my life and my career into."
NASCAR currently has just one Black driver in the top flight: Wallace.
In recent weeks, he's emerged as a new face of the franchise because he has "Black Lives Matter" on his car and initial reports of a noose found in his garage, which led to an FBI investigation.
In the wake of that story, many in the NASCAR community stepped up and supported Wallace, embracing Black Lives Matter and giving young drivers like Caruth hope for the future.
"He's been a good role model, a really good role model, and an ambassador for the sport," Caruth said of Wallace. "He's been a really good person for me to look up to, just in terms of how to carry myself, online and at the racetrack, how to treat people, how to deal with criticism and just mean people."
During the Honor QuikTrip 500 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR President Steve Phelps had drivers shut down their cars so he could read the following message over the public address system:
"The Black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better. The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice."
Caruth said that while he's personally faced issues regarding his race, it's been on a "much smaller" scale than Wallace's battles with online trolls and attacks via social media.
"I'm definitely not going to act like, you know, I had the worst time possible, but I definitely had my fair share of interactions that were not of the positive sort," Caruth added.
Seeing more people who look like him in and around racing, even if not behind the wheel, has been encouraging, he said.
"There aren't really many of us drivers, but there are a lot of us behind the scenes," said Caruth. "It's good to be on pit road and see Mike Metcalf and Tigger and everybody on pit road, you know, people of color that you know got my back. And it's cool to see them whenever I go to a cup race."
In 2010, NASCAR launched its Drive for Diversity Development Program, which includes Caruth now and, previously, Wallace. And in 2017, the program hired Jusan Hamilton, the first Black race director.
Caruth said he knows how to become a champion driver: "You can't take 'no' for an answer."
"People will say, 'Oh, you don't have experience, or, you know, you're this, that, and the other,'" he continued. "You really just have to stay focused. If you know you can drive, then go show it. If you stay true to yourself and make sure you surround yourself with your family, with good people, you'll be able to do great things."
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Prosecutors will appeal to a Florida judge via a video conference Tuesday morning to allow key evidence in the solicitation case against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Kraft, 79, was hit with misdemeanor charges last year after investigators say he was recorded twice paying for sex acts with workers at a Orchids of Asia spa in Jupiter, Florida. Two dozen other clients were also charged as part of an investigation into the spa over alleged sex trafficking.
In May 2019, Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that prosecutors could not use undercover police videos taken from inside the spa as evidence during the trial. He said police did not do enough to protect the privacy of all the spa's customers.
Prosecutors contend Hanser erred in his decision and the warrant was issued legitimately after detectives spent days collecting evidence that the spa was a front for an illegal sex trafficking and prosecution ring.
“That the spa was regularly used as a brothel is confirmed by the small percentage of recorded massages that ultimately appeared lawful,” Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey DeSousa wrote in court papers.
Attorneys representing Kraft, who apologized for being caught up in the spa’s investigation, argue that the use of the footage would hurt the civil liberties of Florida residents.
The appeal will be livestreamed on the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal's site.
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty ImagesBy CANDICE WILLIAMS, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- Colin Kaepernick's adolescent years will be made into a six-part series on Netflix thanks to Ava DuVernay.
Netflix announced on Monday that the Oscar nominee will direct and produce the forthcoming scripted drama titled Colin in Black & White. The limited series will focus on Kaepernick's teenage life and high school experience growing up as a Black child adopted by a white family.
Kaepernick will narrate the series, which is expected to cast an actor to play a younger version of the quarterback. The series will also take a look at Kaepernick's early journey to become the activist he is today.
In 2016, Kaepernick became the face of protests against police brutality when he knelt during the national anthem.
"Too often we see race and Black stories portrayed through a white lens," Kaepernick said in a statement. "We seek to give new perspective to the differing realities that Black people face. We explore the racial conflicts I faced as an adopted Black man in a white community, during my high school years. It's an honor to bring these stories to life in collaboration with Ava for the world to see."
"With his act of protest, Colin Kaepernick ignited a national conversation about race and justice with far-reaching consequences for football, culture and for him, personally," added DuVernay. "Colin's story has much to say about identity, sports and the enduring spirit of protest and resilience. I couldn't be happier than to tell this story with the team at Netflix."
Emmy nominee Michael Starrbury, who previously worked with DuVernay on Netflix's Peabody-winning limited series "When They See Us, will write the script and serve as executive producer alongside DuVernay and Kaepernick.
Ian MacNicol/Getty ImagesBy GOOD MORNING AMERICA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- For former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, learning to love her body has been a years-long struggle.
In a new video shared to her YouTube channel, Johnson told her fans that as a gymnast in the 2008 Olympic Games, she restricted her calories to 700 per day and as a result, she "would pass out during practice or after," and never had a menstrual cycle.
Being in the "limelight" on Dancing With the Stars the next year only heightened her self-consciousness.
Additionally, she felt lost without her sport, and without a purpose.
"I had to deal with not being an elite athlete, not training 50 hours a week, eating more than 700 calories a day, which naturally would let my body to adjust and gain weight which was healthy at the time but I didn't know how to handle it," she said, noting that she gained about 15 pounds. "When I went on 'Dancing With the Stars' and I had my period for the first time and I had to deal with going through puberty on national television, I hit a very low spot."
"I started taking weight loss pills. I started taking Ephedrine. I started taking Adderall. I started doing any and everything that I possibly could to lose the weight and to look like I did at the Olympics," she added. "Because in my mind, everybody praised me for what I did at the Olympics. They praised who I was as a human being when I was there and in my mind, if I could look like that, not necessarily compete or do gymnastics, but if I could be that person again, then the world would say that I was enough and I was accepted."
Johnson, 28, explained that although she did lose the weight and eventually returned to gymnastics, she quit after realizing how unhappy she was. Immediately, she hired a nutritionist and a therapist, and within a few years, she was "feeling more comfortable in my body," and eating about 1,500 calories per day. In 2016, she married former professional football player Andrew East, and the next year, they were shocked to learn that Johnson was pregnant. However, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage.
"I had this gut-wrenching feeling that it was because of my past -- because of the pills, the diuretics, because of starving myself and the weight fluctuations and the binging and purging," she said. "I thought it was because of all those bad choices that I had made."
Miscarriage, or early pregnancy loss, occurs in about 10 to 20% of known pregnancies, according to the Mayo Clinic. In most cases, miscarriages occur "because the fetus isn't developing normally," the organization reported.
Last year, Johnson and East, 28, learned they were expecting again, and the former Olympian said one of her first calls was to her nutritionist.
"I said, 'My biggest fear is that I won't eat enough,'" she said. "It was just an iconic moment for me."
During her pregnancy, Johnson took vitamins every day and made sure to have two cheat meals each week. She also set a workout goal of 30 minutes of walking five times a week -- a huge change for someone who used to plan four workout classes in a single day. Now a mom to her 8-month-old daughter, Drew, Johnson said she's grown to accept her body.
"It was very hard, and I don't wish it on anyone, but I've had these tough experiences that make me a stronger mom and will allow me to teach Drew how to be strong as well," she said.
(SEATTLE) -- Seattle's new NHL expansion team will have a completely carbon-neutral venue to play in beginning in the 2021-22 season.
Amazon purchased the building's naming rights, according to an announcement Thursday, and will call it Climate Pledge Arena. The company is modeling the hockey venue on The Climate Pledge, created by Amazon and Global Optimism, which calls on those who sign to be net zero carbon across businesses by 2040, NHL.com reports. Watch the report from ABC News below:
(NEW YORK) -- Two professional basketball players on the Sacramento Kings revealed Wednesday that they have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Kings forward Jabari Parker, 25, said he had received the positive results "several days ago" and "immediately" isolated himself in Chicago.
"I am progressing in my recovery and feeling well," Parker said in a statement released by the team. "I look forward to joining my teammates in Orlando as we return to the court for the resumption of the NBA season."
Kings center Alex Len, 27, said he was tested Tuesday in Sacramento.
"I want to thank the Sacramento Kings for their great care and the NBA for putting the protocols in place to allow me to catch this early," Len said in a statement posted on Instagram. "I have immediately entered isolation and look forward to being cleared and rejoining my teammates for our playoff push."
The Kings, along with 21 other teams, are scheduled to resume play next month after the NBA season was put on hold in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. On June 4, the league's Board of Governors approved games to resume on July 30 in Orlando, Florida.