LANDOVER, Md — Two major NFL sponsors, FedEx and Nike, have officially ramped up long mounting pressure on Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change his team’s nickname.

The nickname “Redskins” is an antiquated racial slur against Native Americans and seen by many as offensive. Countless attempts by numerous activist groups over the years to have the name changed have been unsuccessful, but that may change now that the outcry is reaching Synder’s pockets.

In a concise, one sentence long statement on Thursday (July 2), FedEx said “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” FedEx holds the naming right to FedEx Field, Washington’s home stadium, in Landover, Maryland, as part of a 27-year, $205 million naming deal that runs through the 2026 season. FedEx’s CEO, Frederick W. Smith, is also a minority investor in the football team, proving just how closely FedEx has aligned itself with the franchise since the decades since they partnered up in 1999. FedEx was the first major corporate backer of the Washington Redskins to call on the team to change its name.

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Nike, the official apparel sponsor of the NFL, appears to have followed suit and has removed all Washington Redskins gear from their website. Searching “Washington Redskins” on the site return zero results and the team’s name is not listed with the 31 other NFL teams, any of which apparel can still be purchased. Nike has been the NFL’s official uniform and sideline gear provider since 2012 and their current agreement runs through the 2028 season.

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The moves from the two companies come less than a week after a group of more than 85 investment firms and shareholders representing $620 billion in assets called on FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo to sever relationships with the team unless Snyder changes his team’s nickname. In the letter addressed to Nike, the firms said “In light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name. Therefore, it is time for Nike to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”

This move is just the latest in Nike’s attempts in recent years to distance themselves from the “Redskins” nickname. Last year, when Nike sold “Salute to Service” hoodies to benefit military charities, they referred to the team as “Washington Football” making them the only NFL team whose hoodie did not reference their name. In the letter to Nike, the shareholders called out Nike for selling “apparel with the team’s racist name and logo” later adding “this association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”

In the past, Snyder has been very adamant about his resistance to changing the name of his franchise. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means. We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps” Snyder infamously said in a 2013 interview. As recently as 2018, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said a name change for Washington was unlikely. These two takes are not aging well and the wind of change is swirling.

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