Washington Redskins sponsors pressured to cut ties unless team changes name

A group of 87 investment firms sent letters to Nike, PepsiCo and FedEx.

A group of 87 investment firms are calling on prominent corporate sponsors to cut ties with the NFL’s Washington Redskins unless they agree to change their name, according to a report Wednesday.

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In three letters, the firms asked Nike, PepsiCo and FedEx to pressure Redskins officials to drop the team name and logo and to end their business relationship with the franchise if they refuse, AdWeek reported. Critics of the team name, including several Native American groups, say the Redskins name and mascot are racist.

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“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,” the firms said in the letter addressed to Nike. “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.”

A Redskins team representative did not immediately return a request for comment. Representatives from each company declined to comment on the letters, according to AdWeek.

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The investment firms, which include Oneida Nation Trust Enrollment Committee and Trillium Asset Management, have combined assets of $620 billion. The letters contained specific references to each company’s response to social justice issues in recent years, especially after nationwide protests against racial inequality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The letter to Nike praises the company’s support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a prominent activist who led player national anthem protests in 2016, but noted the company still profits from the sale of merchandise with the Redskins team name and logo. The firms praised PepsiCo’s recent decision to “sunset the Aunt Jemima brand” as a positive step.

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Washington team owner Dan Snyder has refused for years to consider a name change. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in 2018 that a change was unlikely to occur.

Last month, the Redskins removed a statue of former team owner George Preston Marshall from outside the team’s former home, RFK Stadium, and struck his name from the team’s ring of honor. Marshall was the last NFL team owner to desegregate his locker room.

Snyder is attempting to build a new stadium for the franchise at the RFK Stadium site, which is on federally owned land. Washington D.C. lawmakers warned the stadium project will never be approved unless the team name is changed.

“There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name,” Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio told the Washington Post.

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