FedEx Corporation, a delivery service that holds the naming rights to the stadium in which the Washington Redskins play, made a request on Thursday evening asking the team to change its nickname.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement, which is especially notable because FedEx CEO Fred Smith is also a minority owner of the Redskins.
Earlier this week, Adweek reported that FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders — worth a combined $620 billion — asking them to terminate their business relationships with the team unless majority owner Dan Snyder agrees to change the controversial nickname.
The renewed pressure comes after more than a month of nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and just one day after federal officials said there is no scenario in which Snyder will be able to built a new stadium on the federally owned site of RFK Stadium — the team’s home from 1961-96 — unless he changes the team’s nickname.
“I call on Dan Snyder, once again, to face that reality, since he does still desperately want to be in the nation’s capital,” congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton told the Washington Post. “He has got a problem he can’t get around, and he particularly can’t get around it today, after the George Floyd killing.”
The franchise has been called the Redskins since the Boston Braves changed their name in 1933, then moved to Washington D.C. four years later. The team has played its games at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, since 1997, but hopes to return to the district when that lease ends after the 2027 season.
“There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington D.C. without first changing the team name,” deputy mayor John Falcicchio said.
The franchise already distanced itself from former owner George Preston Marshall, removing his name from their Ring of Fame and his images from the team’s training facility in June. Marshall had a long-standing policy of refusing to sign African-American players for much of his tenure, which lasted from the team’s inception until his death in 1969.
Snyder, meanwhile, has repeatedly resisted calls for the team to change its nickname in the past, including from numerous Native American tribes. He’s referred to it as a badge of honor and once vowed to never change the name — “and you can use caps,” he said.
Photos via FedEx Field and the Washington Redskins.