WASHINGTON — FedEx became the first major corporate backer of the Washington Redskins to call on the team to change its name Thursday, the most significant development yet amid mounting financial and political pressure on team owner Daniel Snyder in the long-running controversy.

In a one-sentence statement issued Thursday afternoon, Memphis-based FedEx said: “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”

Even without elaboration from the company, the statement signals a dramatic pivot by one of the Redskins’ more loyal, long-standing corporate backers — a Fortune 100 company that for more than two decades has tied its brand with that of the Redskins.

FedEx’s request that the team change its name comes less than one week after a group of 88 investment firms and shareholders representing $620 billion in assets called on it, Nike, and Pepsi — Fortune 100 companies that do business with the team — to sever ties with the team unless Snyder changes its name.

And it represents another shift in a battle in which the terrain has shifted from moral appeals to business and political tactics during a period when the country is re-examining statues, monuments, symbols and corporate names and logos that some Americans have never questioned but to others have long been a source of offense, insult or pain.

If prominent Redskins sponsors feel sufficient pressure to dissociate from the team, Snyder’s bottom line would take a significant hit at the same time he faces political roadblocks in building a new stadium.

FedEx, which ranks 47th on the 2020 Fortune 500 list, holds the naming rights to the team’s existing stadium in Landover, Md., through 2026 under a $205 million, 27-year deal signed in November 1999. Moreover, the company’s CEO, Frederick Smith, is a minority investor in the team, who is believed to have a 10-percent share.

The sponsors’ investors — whose assets are represented by First Peoples Worldwide, Oneida Nation Trust Enrollment Committee, Trillium Asset Management, LLC Boston Common Asset Management, LLC Boston Trust Walden Mercy Investment Services, and First Affirmative Financial Network — are not threatening to boycott or divest from the companies. Rather, their move represents a campaign to work from within those companies to pressure their respective CEOs to put pressure on Snyder. FedEx’s statement Thursday is the first public result.

The investors are motivated by several factors, explained Carla Fredericks, director of First Peoples Worldwide and director of the University of Colorado Law School’s American Indian Law Clinic.

The shareholders see the name as a racial slur, and they feel Nike, FedEx and Pepsi have obligations to honor their stated corporate values of inclusion and diversity. Thus, they believe the value of their investments will suffer if the companies continue supporting an NFL team that doesn’t reflect those values. In other words, they are demanding the companies “walk the talk” of their stated values as they relate to the Washington team’s name.

Jonas Kron, senior vice president of Trillium Assets Managements, a leader in the socially responsible investing movement, pointed to Nike’s public support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose activism on issues of racial and social justice issues it celebrated through a major ad campaign.

“Nike made a very clear choice to support Colin Kaepernick and his protest,” Kron said in a telephone interview, “and angered a lot of people in doing that. But they decided, ‘This is where our market is, and this is the position we want to take as a company because of the values we stand for as a company.’”

In their letter to Nike CEO and President John Donahoe, the shareholders highlighted the contradiction in outfitting Washington’s NFL team and producing and selling “apparel with the team’s racist name and logo.”

The letter stated: “This association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”

The shareholders’ action, expressed in letters sent to the three companies last week, is one more example of an increasingly unfriendly business climate for Snyder, who has owned the Redskins since 1999 and has said that he will never change the name that he insists honors Native Americans and is a proud part of the franchise’s heritage.

In the view of Fredericks, it’s widely accepted, historical fact that the name is a racial slur that originally referred to the bounty on the scalps of Native Americans. Whether the majority of Native Americans agree, she said, is immaterial.

“That’s irrelevant to the investors’ push in the context of the larger social movement on racial justice,” Fredericks said.

The Redskins name has a source of controversy for decades. Opponents traditionally have appealed to Snyder to change the name for moral reasons. These latest efforts are aimed at convincing him that he must change the name to keep his NFL franchise solvent.

On Wednesday, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives; District Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio; and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., chair of the House Natural Resources Committee said in separate telephone interviews with The Washington Post that Snyder has no hope of building the team’s next stadium on the federally owned RFK campus unless and until he drops the Redskins name.

Snyder’s profit margin is already suffering. The team’s chronic poor performance has cost him dearly in unsold seats, a dwindling season-ticket base and difficulty selling luxury suites.

FedEx Field, which opened in 1997, is an increasing liability, as well. Fan surveys give it consistently poor marks for the game-day experience. It is poorly served by public transportation. And home-field advantage for NFC East games has all but disappeared, with Eagles and Cowboys fans buying up heavily discounted tickets to cheer their teams.

(52) comments

mgoose806

Hopefully the NFL will cancel the season and we won’t have to be lectured too by a bunch of loudmouths that no redeeming qualities other then entertainment 16 weeks a year. Done with paying to be told we are racists.

C.D.Reid

If they did cancel the season I sure wouldn't lose any sleep over it, I pretty much quit watching football after they quit showing the playing of the National Anthem because of Kaepernick's crap. I don't give a dam n what players do on their own time but, when they come out onto the field for a game, they're on the fan's time and that's no place for personal political opinions.

threecents

To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, If you would rather cancel football than witness a player kneel silently to protest racism during the anthem, then you just might be a racist.

bosco

From a 2019 Washington Post survey... "9 out of 10 Native Americans were not offended by the team’s name"...So who is really offended, Native Americans or the Woke/Cancel Culture Left?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-survey-explores-how-native-americans-feel-about-the-name-washington-redskins-no-its-not-that-survey-this-one-is-new/2019/08/09/e38553bc-b581-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html?utm_source=reddit.com&utm_source=reddit.com

LeonardKeepers

i read in another article that the Cleveland Indians were considering changing their name.

LeonardKeepers

one person gets a bug in their southern hemisphere,in this case the name redskins because the CEO of FEDEX thinks it is a slur against the native Americans.whoopy do.what about the Cleveland inidians,Atlanta Braves, what about all of the other stuff that is going on now,it is thought to be a slur against someone or somebody.enough is enough.unfortunately i feel Daniel Snyder is/will capitulate to FEDEX simply because of money,the two million dollars he gets from FedEx so they can mane the property FEDEX field. as for low attendance at the games,that is because of the Kamperneck fiasco,for which he should be barred from playing football.

threecents

LK, Is that satire?

public-redux

The Washington Humidity.

Crowd cheer: It’s not the heat; it’s the Humidity!

Dwasserba

[thumbup]p-r love it!

corgikid

How about the Washington Reds or, even better, the Washington Blacks? I think professional sports is in big trouble and will lose fans, sponsors, and money. People will be fed up with the antics of these overpaid whiners and philosophers who make no sense. People will find other interests.

DickD

And your comment shows how little you know about sports and sport fans.

threecents

Snyder agreed to have talks with community groups, and it looks like he is finally onboard with a name change. Attendance was way down last year, so this could be something to spark local connection to the team, especially with younger people. He is probably thanking Nike for this.

threecents

FedEx and Nike.

threecents

Washington Warriors. They would get to keep the Indian logo and not use a racist name. And they would get alliteration. Win. Win. Win. Go Warriors!

rpkrauss

Is was thinking “ warriors, come out and playyyyy”.

girlpolitic

I have been considering this topic for several years. Based on the team's performance the name should be changed! Most appropriate name would be the Washington Dead Skins. If the team's name does change the only way I will know if it is in the paper because I stopped watching all NFL games in 2016. DE-FUND THE NFL!

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] girlpolitic!!! This PC garbage has gotten waaaaaay out of hand! I'd rather Snyder eliminate the team than change the name. And I don't mean sell it so someone can rename it, I mean dissolve it.

Greg F

Boo boo....it’s a sh1tty name and you know it. It should have gone decades ago.

threecents

CD, It seems you are the only one who doesn't know why the name change upsets you.

DickD

You must not like football. And deadskins is not original. That name has been floating around for 50 years. Do.you remember Sonny Jurgenson?

Greg F

No kidding. Washington wankers may be more appropriate.

C.D.Reid

Good idea Greg, The "Washington Wankers," a name that best represents the type of Democrat, leftist, liberal, city governments that are trashing the major cities of this country. [thumbup]

DickD

Or we could call them the Washington conservatives to match their scoring and red would still be a appropriate color.

JohnSchaeffer1

Political correctness marches on. All these enlighten people calling for name changes, statue removals and headstone bashing have to show how righteous they are.

threecents

You probably need to check yourself if you are complaining about righteousness. Just saying.

C.D.Reid

Righteousness to one person may not mean the same to others, wouldn't you agree, three? Just saying.

threecents

Yes, but I was going by John S's usage.

tonyc51

May I suggest that the name can be changed to REDNECKs, that should not offend anyone in today's woke society..

C.D.Reid

[thumbup] Red necks are the backbone of this great country!

public-redux

Colorfest![thumbup]

threecents

KR999, In additions to History 101, you might want to take Anatomy 101.

C.D.Reid

three, I suggest you take basic Facetious 101. Get back to me after you have and I'll give it another shot, OK?

threecents

Good comeback. [clapping hands]

DickD

Yeah, but Redneck has a different meaning than Redskin. Redneck is offensive.

C.D.Reid

Dick, Redskin is not offensive? Seems to me it is with all the hoopla about forcing Snyder to change the name. Redneck is not offensive to everyone though, I'm proud to be considered one by many, no matter what context they think it in. [thumbup]

mgoose806

Redneck is a nickname for someone who works outside and gets sunburned on their neck. Redskin is a variety of potato. Danny can chain mascot to Mr. Potato Head.

Greg F

Backend more likely. Been the bane of progress.

DickD

How is it racist to call a football team, Redskins. Most American Indians were warriors and a football team is like a fighting force. The linemen block, tackle and the backfield tries to move the ball or along with the line, stop the other team from moving the ball.

Call them what you want, they will always be the Redskins to me.

bosco

DickD, I traveled through several reservations out west back in the mid-2000s and saw more that one reservation school with their team named Redskins. I wish I had stopped to take a picture at every example.

Perhaps somebody should ask the sovereign nations of native Americans for a vote on their position.

Who decided that Redskins is offensive?

[ninja]

DickD

So, the Indians don't consider it an insult, except for a few, if they are proud enough of the name to name their teams Redskins.

tonyc51

Dick, I have no problem with the redskin name, but it is interesting how opinions change when it your "ox that is being gored", isn't it?

threecents

Dick, Think of the terms "blackskins" or "whiteskins" or "yellowskins". If that doesn't work than consider the quote from the article: "...it’s widely accepted, historical fact that the name is a racial slur that originally referred to the bounty on the scalps of Native Americans."

DickD

You want to name the team the Scalpers? It might work. [lol]

threecents

It is a violent game, but no. Maybe try thinking of different name.

threecents

Hi KR. In case you can't just tell that the name is offensive to many in today's world, here is a link that explains it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redskin

C.D.Reid

Sorry three, but I beg to differ. The name "redskin" was in use long before it was used in reference to Indian scalps, and not in a derogatory manner:.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-brief-history-of-the-word-redskin-and-how-it-became-a-source-of-controversy/2016/05/19/062cd618-187f-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html#:~:text=The%20origin%20of%20the%20word%20%E2%80%9Credskin%E2%80%9D%20has%20long,century%2C%20as%20colonists%20and%20Native%20Americans%20began%20clashing.

And the 1755 Phips Proclamation offering a bounty for their scalps did not use the word.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54f8b4cfe4b0b230c7abfe97/t/58de6185f5e231507d67da73/1490968965807/Phips+Bounty+Proclamation+Broadside.pdf

I believe your research could be a little more thorough.

threecents

May not have been the first usage of the term, but here is info from Wikipedia, "The term "red-skin" was, in fact used in conjunction with scalp hunting in the 19th century. In 1863 a Winona, Minnesota, newspaper, the Daily Republican, printed an announcement: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth."[39] A news story published by the Atchison Daily Champion in Atchison, Kansas, on October 9, 1885, tells of the settlers' "hunt for redskins, with a view of obtaining their scalps", worth $250.[40] In his early career as the owner of a newspaper in South Dakota, L. Frank Baum wrote an editorial upon the death of Chief Sitting Bull in which he advocates the annihilation of all remaining Redskins in order to secure the safety of white settlers, and because "better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are.""

LeonardKeepers

this is ridiculous are they going to push for the Cleveland Indians to change their name people need to get a life.

DickD

How about the Cleveland Water Boys?

EABiker

I am OK with the name change, as long as they get to play the Kansas City Karens.

DickD

Will that team be made up of cheer leaders?

threecents

The Philly Felicias.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!