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Maryland Gov. Hogan: ‘Time is probably right’ to retire name of Washington football team

In this 2015 photo, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, left, and the then-quarterback of Washington's NFL team, Robert Griffin III, now a Raven, talked with Megan Howarth, 9, before an anti-bullying event at Six Flags America.
In this 2015 photo, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, left, and the then-quarterback of Washington's NFL team, Robert Griffin III, now a Raven, talked with Megan Howarth, 9, before an anti-bullying event at Six Flags America.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is jumping on board the movement to rename Washington’s professional football team — even though he previously supported keeping the “Redskins” name.

“I think the time is probably right,” Hogan said Wednesday morning on the “Today” show on NBC. “I’m glad they’re having the discussion. I believe the name will be changed.”

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Majority owner Dan Snyder announced last week that the team was embarking on a “thorough review” of its name, which is widely understood to be a racist slur and offensive to Native Americans. Snyder has been under renewed pressure in recent weeks to rename the team, including from FedEx, which holds the naming rights on the team’s stadium in Landover in Prince George’s County.

“Look, I grew up in the Washington area as a Redskins fan. It’s got a lot of history associated with the name,” Hogan, a Republican, told “Today” host Craig Melvin. “But I understand it’s a hurtful name and in today’s context, it probably should be changed.”

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“You acknowledge that it’s a slur?” Melvin asked.

“Absolutely,” Hogan responded.

Hogan previously offered a different view of the name.

“I like to call them the Washington Redskins and I don’t think the government has any business whatsoever trying to tell a private enterprise what they should call themselves. There used to be a thing called freedom of speech,” Hogan told The Washington Times editorial board in 2014.

He added: “I also understand that a lot of people are offended by the name, but a lot of people are offended by Washington. Maybe they should drop that from the name.”

At the time, Hogan was deep in his first campaign for governor, against then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a Democrat who now represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties in Congress. In the Times piece, Hogan derided Brown for attending games and calling for a name change at the same time, calling him a “hypocrite.”

Hogan has no official oversight of the Washington football team, but as governor, his opinion often commands attention.

Brown said he’s glad the governor “has evolved, as people do.”

“But I think it’s yet another example of Governor Hogan the follower, and not the leader,” Brown said.

Brown questioned how close a relationship Hogan may have with the team and Snyder. He cited a failed plan in which Hogan proposed swapping state land in Western Maryland for federal land in Prince George’s County that would have been used for a football stadium for the Washington team.

“Larry Hogan was willing to give it away for almost nothing,” Brown said.

Hogan said at the time that he met personally with Snyder about the deal.

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And the governor’s office acknowledged earlier this year that Snyder had discussed with Hogan his plan for offering sports betting at FedEx Field, should the practice be legalized.

Team spokesman Sean DeBarbieri said team officials would not comment on the name until the internal review is complete. The team has not said how long the review is expected to take.

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