‘If it is changed, some people will not follow them anymore': Debate over Redskins’ name continues in Roanoke Valley

ROANOKE, Va – The Washington Redskins are the closest NFL team for many in Southwest and Central Virginia, which means there are many fans in the area.

“We probably have as much or more Redskins stuff than any other team in here,” said Robin Bennett, owner of Roanoke sports memorabilia store Sports Haven.

The Redskins and owner Dan Snyder are facing renewed calls to rebrand, and the team announced Friday it will “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.”

The team’s identity has become a controversial issue for some people, including Roanoke sports fan Jerome Nance.

“We’re steering in the direction where we’re going to see a name change,” Nance said. “There are people who grew up with the name, and a lot of them don’t see the racism or anything associated with it.”

However, Bennett said his customers are attached to the Redskins name.

“There has not been one person here that has said they wanted it to change,” Bennett said. “There’s a lot of people that said if it is changed, they will not follow the Redskins anymore.”

Bennett said it is also an economic issue for him. He said he will likely need to spend thousands of dollars to replace the team’s merchandise if the Redskins rebrand.

“We carry hats, earrings, gloves...over 100 items of Redskins stuff in our store now,” Bennett said. “If they get a new logo and a new name, it’s all obsolete.”

Nance and Bennett are split on if the Redskins will actually change their name after the review.

“People just don’t want to change the name,” Bennett said.

“I don’t think the owners want to make a change.” Nance said. “I don’t think they want to, but with enough pressure, they probably will.”