NFL: Arena sponsor FedEx asks Redskins to change team moniker

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jul 03 2020 06:58 PM

An employee passes by a Washington Redskins football shirt for sale at a sporting goods store in the US. Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

FedEx, the namesake of the Washington Redskins' stadium, is asking the team to change its controversial nickname.

The Memphis-based delivery firm wrote in a statement Thursday, as reported by multiple media outlets: "We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name."

The Redskins' stadium in Landover, Maryland, is known as FedEx Field under a 27-year, $205 million deal that went into effect in November 1999.

FedEx has another major tie to the Redskins, as its founder, chairman and CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner of the football team.

Former ESPN reporter Josina Anderson tweeted Thursday night that Snyder "has no official plans to address the renewed call to change" the team nickname.

FedEx's announcement came a day after Adweek reported that investment firms and shareholders wrote letters to FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo, asking the companies to end their sponsorship agreements with the Redskins. The letter, signed by 87 firms, threatened to stop financial backing of the three Redskins sponsors.

The group behind the letter has combined assets of $620 billion, according to the report.

Nike and Pepsi refused to comment to Adweek on Wednesday. However, Nike's website had removed all Redskins merchandise as of Thursday, and Washington was the only one of the 32 NFL teams no longer listed in the index. Nike made no public statements about the apparent change, though.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said that the team will not change the nickname as long as he is in charge.

Calls for the club to dump the nickname have been made for decades, but a 2016 Washington Post poll of 504 Native Americans found that 90 percent were not offended by the Redskins nickname. The poll included people in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The franchise began using the Redskins nickname in 1933, when it was based in Boston. Team owner George Preston Marshall moved the club to Washington in 1937.

A statue of Marshall was removed from the Redskins' former Washington venue, RFK Stadium, on June 19 in the wake of protests seeking racial equality following the death of George Floyd. Under Marshall's leadership, the Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate, adding their first Black players in 1962.

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