Key sponsor FedEx Corp has asked the Washington Redskins to change their name, adding to renewed calls for the NFL franchise to be rebranded.
FedEx has the naming rights to the team’s Landover, Maryland, stadium, known as FedExField, under a 27-year deal for which it paid $205 million in 1999, according to media reports at the time.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” the company declared.
FedEx is asking NFL team Washington Redskins to change its name for its racist connotations. The delivery services company, which is a major sponsor for the team, made the suggestion following increasing pressure from its investors amid the ongoing protests against racial injustice and inequality that arose from the killing of African-American George Floyd.
The company reportedly put forward the request after its CEO Frederick Smith received a letter from more than 80 groups and shareholders that invest in the company. The investors urged the company, which holds the naming rights to the team’s stadium, to terminate its business and public relationships with the franchise because of its name.
In the letter, the investors, who claimed to represent $620 billion in assets, noted that the word “Redskins” remains a de-humanizing word characterizing people by skin color and a racial slur with hateful connotations.
They wrote, “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. 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.”
The Kansas City Chiefs, which claimed the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February, faced similar criticism from Native American advocates in the run-up to their Super Bowl win.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has previously said that he would not change the franchise’s name, the topic of fierce debate for years. The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.