Game developer Electronic Arts will alter the upcoming release of Madden NFL 21 to remove logos and the team name of the Washington Redskins after the team this week announced forthcoming changes, an EA representative confirmed to ESPN.
The last-minute change to the popular football simulator game was first reported by Kotaku. Madden NFL 21 is set to release on Aug. 25.
“We are pleased to see Washington’s decision to change their team name and visual identity,” an EA representative said in a statement. “We are quickly working to update Madden NFL 21 to feature a generic Washington team, while we await final word on the updated team name and logo design.”
When buyers pick up the physical copy of the game, it will feature the old nickname and logo because discs are already in production, but those assets will be patched out of the game automatically if a user connects the system to the internet.
“The first changes will be available to our EA Access players and will include audio/commentary updates; motion graphics and presentation updates; stadium art, environments, crowd gear and signage updates; and uniform updates,” EA’s statement said. “Players may continue to see some outdated Washington references in other areas of the game at launch, but we are committed to removing all of those from the game in additional title updates coming shortly after launch.”
On Monday, the team announced it would change its nickname ahead of the upcoming NFL season, although no new name was revealed. One source told ESPN’s John Keim that a new name reveal was coming soon, with Sports Business Daily reporting that trademark issues for the new name are pending.
On July 8, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the franchise would no longer use any Native American imagery in its designs. The Washington NFL franchise logo of an American Indian chief was designed by a Native American in 1971. The franchise intends to stick with its burgundy and gold colors, one source told ESPN on Monday. Coach Ron Rivera said that the team wanted to include the military in its new name.
Washington owner Dan Snyder had long resisted considering changes to the name. He told USA Today in 2013 to “put it in all caps” that he would never alter the franchise’s nickname. One source told ESPN on Monday that Snyder was excited for the coming name reveal.
The franchise name and logo change comes amid a heightened conversation around racism in the United States after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota in May. A few weeks after Floyd’s death, Snyder began discussing a name change with the league, multiple sources told ESPN on Monday.
A letter signed by 87 investors and shareholders with a total worth of $620 billion was sent to Washington sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo and Nike, asking them to stop doing business with the team unless the name was changed. Adweek.com reported that letter on July 1.
FedEx issued a statement on July 2 saying that it had told the team it wanted the name changed. Other sponsors made similar statements shortly thereafter. Amazon, Walmart and Target said they would stop selling team merchandise online and in stores and, according to The Washington Post, FedEx said it would remove signage from the team’s stadium if the name wasn’t changed for the 2021 season.
FedEx obtained naming rights for the stadium in 1997, with a 27-year, $205 million deal. FedEx owner and CEO Fred Smith is a minority owner in the franchise, having purchased a stake in 2003. However, sources have told ESPN that Smith and other minority shareholders, Dwight Schar and Bob Rothman, want to sell their stakes. Snyder and his family collectively own 60% of the franchise.