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On Thursday, FedEx, the title sponsor of the team stadium in Landover, Md., said it requested the Washington NFL team to change its team name. (Photo: Bernard Gagnon / CC BY-SA)

WASHINGTON — If the old adage “money talks” proves true, then the conversation about changing a racist team name just got a whole lot louder for Washington’s National Football League (NFL) team.

On Thursday, FedEx, the title sponsor of the team stadium in Landover, Md., released a statement that read “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”

Soon thereafter, sports apparel giant Nike pulled the team’s merchandise off its website. Those searching for the Washington Redsk!ns found a message that read “we could find nothing for …” The team’s name was removed from Nike’s menu, which lists all other 31 NFL teams.

FedEx’s statement came a day after AdWeek reported 87 investment firms sent letters last week to FedEx, Nike, and Pepsi to refuse to do business with the Washington franchise until it changes its name.

Updated:

On Friday morning, the Washington NFL franchise released a statement that read in part “In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redsk!ns 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 team stated:

“THIS PROCESS ALLOWS THE TEAM TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT NOT ONLY THE PROUD TRADITION AND HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE BUT ALSO FROM OUR ALUMNI, THE ORGANIZATIONS, SPONSORS, THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY IT IS PROUD TO REPRESENT ON AND OFF THE FIELD.”

Separate from pressure from corporations, the team received pressure last month from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who both said it’s time to change the name.

Washington NFL statement July 3On June 19, 2020, the Washington Post ran an called for the name change in an editorial, “Change the name of the Washington NFL team. Now.”

 “This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder — or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of “NEVER,” the NFL — should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history,” the Post editorial says. “Change the name. NOW.” 

The renewed call to change the name is welcome by American Indians. American Indian organizations have fought against the name for decades.

This publication has called for the Washington franchise to drop the racist name for several years.

Even with the pressure intensifying, the team’s head coach Ron Rivera told a Chicago radio station that the timing may not be right yet.

“I have my beliefs. I know what I think and I support the movements and support the players. I believe in what they’re doing, and again, I think that there are certain elements to certain things that it’s all about the timing and the best time to discuss those things,” Rivera said.

Whether or not team owner Dan Snyder will agree to changing the team name is yet to be determined. In the past, he has adamantly opposed the name change, answering questions about when or whether he would ever change the name with a single word:  “Never.”

 

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].