WASHINGTON: The Washington Redskins have launched a “thorough review” of the team’s name, the NFL franchise said on Friday (Saturday in Manila), as sponsors stepped up pressure to scrap the moniker long criticized as racist.
“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,” the team said in a statement just 24 hours after stadium sponsor FedEx demanded a name change.
“This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.”
Redskins owner Dan Snyder had long been resistant to changing the team’s name — a term for Native Americans that is seen as a slur.
“We’ll never change the name,” Snyder said in 2018. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
However, nationwide protests over racial injustice — sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25 — have brought the Redskins tag under renewed scrutiny.
On Thursday, US delivery giant FedEx Corp — which paid $205 million to the Redskins in 1998 for the naming rights to the team’s suburban stadium — confirmed it had sought a change.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a one-sentence statement.
Reports this week said that FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo all received letters from 87 investment firms asking the companies and others to sever ties with the Redskins over the name.
Nike did not immediately make a public statement, but the sporting goods giant removed Redskins merchandise from its online store on Thursday.
Food and beverage corporation PepsiCo said in a statement Friday the company had been in conversation with the league and Washington management “for a few weeks” about the issue.
“We believe it is time for a change,” the company said.