Washington NFL coach says team 'not close' to new name


Washington (AFP)

Ron Rivera, preparing for his first season as coach of the NFL's Washington Football Team, says it will take 16 to 18 months before the former Redskins select another nickname.

Rivera to CBS television on Friday that the club is "not close" to a new permanent name after announcing Thursday a generic interim name for the 2020 NFL season following the decision to drop the Redskins name and logo amid a growing US movement against racist symbols and monuments.

"This is going to be about a 16 to 18-month process to do it the right way and really not miss the opportunity to rebrand ourselves, hopefully for the next 100 years," Rivera said Friday.

The team "is not close to making a decision," Rivera said. "The biggest thing we've learned is this is going to take steps. This can't happen automatically. This is going to take a little bit more time than we had anticipated originally."

The generic temporary name has drawn ridicule in some corners, including NBA star LeBron James, who tweeted, "Just waking back up from my pregame nap to see about The Washington Football team??? Is that real?? No way! Oh man they had a thorough intense long board meeting about that one huh."

Rivera said the team's decision to retain its burgundy and gold colors was to keep some sense of connection to the club's on-field history, which includes three Super Bowl victories and five NFL titles in all.

"We've got to change the culture as to who we are and really kind of not just rebrand the name but rebrand the style of football we're going to play, rebrand the way we do things," Rivera said.

Rivera, a nine-year NFL linebacker, who helped the Chicago Bears to a 1986 Super Bowl triumph, spent the past nine seasons as coach of the Carolina Panthers and was hired by Washington team owner Dan Snyder on January 1, 2020.

Rivera defended players who decide to kneel during the US national anthem as a way to recognize protest movements against police brutality and racial injustice.

"These guys, all they're doing is exercising their fundamental rights," River said. "And I'll support them because, you know, it's what our military has fought for... for freedom."

Rivera said he had no regrets about joining the Washington team despite a recent Washington Post report in which 15 women employed by the team accuse former members of the organization of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

"When these things came to light, we really had to look at ourselves and dive into it," Rivera said. "Mr. Snyder has continued to do that."