WASHINGTON - A fake news story circulating on social media claimed the Washington Redskins changed their controversial name to the Washington Redhawks on Thursday.
The story, which was part of a hoax carried out by a Native American advocacy group, claimed the Redskins would be announcing its new team name and logo in the Fall of 2018.
“The WASHINGTON REDHAWKS is a team EVERYONE can cheer for. The Franchise is proud to be a leader in bringing people together in the DMV and in our country during a time of growing divisions,” the fake release stated.
A website, set up to look identical to the Redskin’s website, has a disclaimer stating, “This website is a parody and is not endorsed by the Washington football team, the NFL, Dan Snyder, or any of their affiliates because, in 2017, these people think it’s still OK to use a racial slur for their mascot.”
The Redskins released a statement that read, “This morning, the Redskins organization was made aware of fraudulent websites about our team name. The name of the team is the Washington Redskins and will remain that for the future.”
The Redskins team name has been a hot-button issue for decades as Native Americans decry the term as a racial slur.
The Justice Department announced in June it was giving up the legal fight over the name of the Redskins after the Supreme Court’s decision in Matal v. Tam in favor of an Asian-American band calling itself the Slants. The Justice Department said the ruling would mean the Redskins would prevail in a legal battle to cancel the team's trademarks.
At the time of the ruling, Redskins' owner Dan Snyder said he was "thrilled" by the Supreme Court's decision, and lawyer Lisa Blatt said it vindicated the team’s position. Snyder has refused to change the name despite intense public pressure, saying in the past that the name "represents honor, respect and pride" for Native Americans though Native Americans have said the term is disparaging.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.