The Washington Redskins’ lead sponsor, FedEx, has apparently caved to corporate pressure, asking the football team to change its name after a group of investment firms and shareholders urged major funders to sever ties.
FedEx, which holds rights to the team’s stadium, formally requested the Redskins to ditch their name on Thursday, days after a group of 87 investment firms and shareholders, collectively worth some $620 billion, implored FedEx and two other major NFL sponsors – Nike and PepsiCo – to cut ties with the team unless it takes on a less “offensive” name.
In a short statement, reported by NBC Sports’ J.P. Finlay, FedEx said that they “have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
The request appears to be a thinly-veiled ultimatum, considering that FedEx President and CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner of the team, in addition to the company being the most prominent sponsor of the Redskins.
Around the same time FedEx’s statement began making the rounds, Nike reportedly stopped selling Redskins merchandise on its website.
It appears that Nike has removed all Redskins clothing from their website. If you go to Nike’s website, they have apparel for all the NFL teams currently ; except for Washington.
— Jordan (@redskinstoday_) July 3, 2020
A word search for ‘redskins’ on Nike’s website returned no results as of Thursday evening, while apparel emblazoned with emblems of all other NFL teams remain on site.
Twitter was immediately swamped with suggestions as to how the team should rebrand itself.
My vote:1) Washington Redtails (keeps httr)2) Washington Redhawks (keeps httr)3) Washington Defenders 4) Washington Sentinels 5) Washington Warriors https://t.co/QDdbz40MzX
— Cameron Magruder (@ScooterMagruder) July 2, 2020
if they want the Redskins can call themselves the Jets
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) July 3, 2020
Among the more popular suggestions has been the “Washington Redtails,” intended as a homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators of the Army Air Corps who went by the same nickname.
If Washington owner Dan Snyder ever gets his head out of his ass, I hope they change the team name to Redtails. Redtails was the nickname coined for the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. pic.twitter.com/5cP1yTVxkO
— Sox 🌹🌻 (@CMBowersox) July 2, 2020
Although the Redskins name has been a source of controversy since the 1960s, campaigns to force the team to change its title and logo have all fallen flat.
The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has been adamant that the change won’t’ happen on his watch. In an open letter to fans in October 2013, he argued that the name celebrates Native American heritage, and should not be taken as an offense.
“On…the inaugural Redskins team, four players and our Head Coach were Native Americans. The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor,” Snyder wrote, citing polls that indicated that the vast majority of Native Americans at the time did not see the name as problematic.
A 2016 Washington Post survey found out that out of 500 polled, nine out of 10 Native Americans did not oppose the moniker. A subsequent 2019 web-based study showed that 68 percent of 500 self-identified Native Americans were OK with the team’s name.
However, the most recent study, conducted this year by the liberal bastion UC Berkeley, argued that attitudes have shifted. The study claimed to have found that some 49 percent of about 1,000 self-identified Native Americans polled agreed that the name was indeed offensive. Thirty-eight percent said that they were not bothered by the issue, while the rest did not voice any opinion.
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