Money and Marketing: Washington's NFL team under pressure to change name
FedEx Corp. on Thursday asked the Washington Redskins to rename the NFL team following protests against racial injustice that have shaken the U.S. and pushed many companies to increase efforts to combat racism.
The team responded to the growing criticism by promising a “thorough review” of its long-controversial name, according to the Washington Post.
The team plays at FedExField after a deal in 1999 gave the company naming rights to the stadium and other marketing rights. In 2003, Fred Smith, FedEx’s founder and chief executive officer, acquired a 10 per cent stake in the team and joined its leadership council, which is similar to a board of directors.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement.
Separately, Nike Inc.’s website appeared to have removed merchandise with the Redskin’s name. A search on the site for “Redskins” late Thursday returned no results. The world’s largest sportswear brand has the main license for NFL-related apparel, including uniforms.
The team, based in the nation’s capital, and its owner, Daniel Snyder, have been under pressure for years to change the name, which is a pejorative term for Native Americans.
More companies are taking action following protests spawned by the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The surge in anti-racist demonstrations has also led to the toppling of some statues and spurred the state of Mississippi to remove the Confederate symbol from its flag.
In June, FedEx fired an employee who took part in a counter-protest, caught on video, that mocked the killing of Floyd. In a statement at that time, the company said: “We stand with those who support justice and equality.”
--With assistance from Max Zimmerman.