Native American advocacy groups have tried for decades to force a change, and a peer-reviewed UC Berkeley study released earlier this year revealed 67% of those surveyed who strongly identify as Native agreed or strongly agreed the name was offensive. The death of George Floyd in Minnesota and other examples of police brutality against Black people in the U.S. sparked protests worldwide and changes to various brands considered racially insensitive.
Asked last month about the name, a spokesman said the team had no comment. But this week marked a possible sea change on the issue with investors writing to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors hoping they would influence change.
FedEx was the first to act publicly. The title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover Md., FedEx said Thursday, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” FedEx paid $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to the stadium.
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. Nike did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment. PepsiCo did not immediately respond to an email Friday seeking comment.
Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview now is not the time to discuss the name, called it “an issue of personal importance.” Rivera, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and is the only Hispanic head coach currently in the NFL, added he'd work closely with Snyder during the process.
Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said recently the name was an “obstacle” to the team building a stadium in the District. The current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and the old RFK Stadium site in Washington is one of several options for the team's new headquarters, along with locations in Maryland and Virginia.
The team in late June removed racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument of Marshall also was removed from the RFK Stadium site.
Marshall’s granddaughter supported those moves and recently told The Associated Press she’s fine with the team changing its name.
“I think if anybody’s offended that they should change the name,” Wright said. “I’ve always felt that way.”