Vernon Davis tells TMZ Sports he was straight-up "hurt" when Washington's NFL team changed its nickname ... saying it felt like "part of me has been taken away."
"I grew up a Washington Redskins fan, right?" the ex-NFL tight end tells us. "I've always wanted to play for the team as a kid. I always had dreams and aspirations to play for that team."
"So, for them to change the name, it really hurt. It hurt deep down inside."
But, Davis -- who grew up in the D.C. area and ultimately played 4 seasons for Washington -- says he gets why Dan Snyder and Co. pulled the trigger on dropping the moniker last month.
"I understand it's a business," Davis says. "It's all business."
Davis tells us he's sure the decision all came down to fans wanting the name change to happen ... and says, "If they're happy, I'm happy."
"If there's a lot of complaints and everyone's asking and if it's going to shine a better light on the organization, and just everything in general, I think it's best," Davis added.
"I'm all about doing the right thing. And I feel like if everyone's on board, and they think it's right, then it's right for me."
By the way, Davis has been working on some cool things since he played his last snap for Washington ... telling us he's partnered with cold brew drink company Riff -- and he's fired up about it!