WASHINGTON D.C. — The Washington Redskins are formally taking a hard look at their team name as many decry the name as racist against Native Americans, multiple sources confirmed.
The review comes in tandem with pressure from investors to change the name.
FedEx — which sponsors and has naming rights for the stadium the Washington team plays in — released a statement acknowledging they asked the team to change its name. This came after more than 80 groups and shareholders sent a letter to FedEx CEO Frederick Smith calling on it to “terminate its business and public relationships” with the franchise because of the name.
Similar letters were also sent by investors to the CEOs of Nike, which makes Redskins uniforms and equipment, and Pepsi, its snack and beverage partner.
“We have been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue. We believe it is time for a change. We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership,” a PepsiCo spokesperson said in a statement Friday.
Nike did not respond to a request for comment.
In the letter to Smith, the investors, who said they represent more than $620 billion in assets, argued that the word “Redskins” remains a “de-humanizing word characterizing people by skin color and a racial slur with hateful connotations.”
“In light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name,” the investors wrote. “Therefore, it is time for FedEx to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”
Here is the full response statement from the team:
In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name. This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.
Dan Snyder, Owner of the Washington Redskins, stated, “This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise, but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”
Ron Rivera, Head Coach of the Washington Redskins, remarked, “This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”
We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind.