After reports that investors were going to major sponsorship partners of the Washington Redskins to press the team to change their name, multinational delivery service and title sponsor of the team’s stadium, FedEx, confirmed that the company has reached out to Washington.
According to FOX 5 in Washington, D.C., Fedex confirmed that they had reached out, saying, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.“
Despite complaints of racism, team owner Dan Snyder has not shifted the name, and said the team’s name honors Native Americans rather than disparages them, saying this to ESPN back in 2014:
It’s just historical truths, and I’d like them to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor, respect. We sing ‘Hail to the Redskins.’ We don’t say hurt anybody. We say ‘Hail to the Redskins. Braves on the warpath. Fight for old D.C.’ We only sing it when we score touchdowns.
Local Officials Asking for Name Change
The past week has seen the situation come to a head, as both investors and local government officials asking the team to change their name, especially if the team has interest in moving to RFK Stadium in place of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
Two officials included D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio and House Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, who both called upon the Redskins to change the team’s name that has been in place since 1933, according to the Washington Post.
“I call on Dan Snyder once again to face that reality, since he does still desperately want to be in the nation’s capital,” Norton said. “He has got a problem he can’t get around — and he particularly can’t get around it today, after the George Floyd killing.”
While Norton brought up the unrest and social justice movement in response to the murder of Minneapolis, Minnesota man George Floyd in police custody, while Falcicchio says that the team simply cannot have its current name and exist in the United States of America’s capital city.
“There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name.”
Investors Asking Sponsors to Pressure Snyder
According to Adweek, a group of 87 different shareholders and investment firms wrote to Nike, FedEx and Pepsi to either drop the team or encourage a name change.
According to the report, the estimated value of these firms and groups is around $620 million, and while Nike and Pepsi have yet to respond, FedEx initially deferred to anything the Redskins had to say before Thursday’s update.
One investment group listed, One Peoples Worldwide, had director Carla Frederick talk to Adweek about their perspective, offering this comment:
“Indigenous peoples were sort of left out of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s in many respects. Because our conditions were so dire on reservations and our ability to engage publicly was very limited because of that. With social media now, obviously everything is different.”
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.