FedEx Reportedly Gives Redskins an Ultimatum: Change Name or Stadium Signage Will Be Removed
FedEx reportedly said it will pull its name from the Washington Redskins' field if the team doesn't change its name after next season
The Washington Redskins have played at FedEx Field for nearly 20 years — but unless the team changes its name, that will not be the case come 2021, according to a new report.
FedEx alerted the team in a two-page letter that it will pull its name from stadium signage following the 2020 NFL season if the team does not agree to a name change, the Washington Post reported.
The company reportedly signed a stadium naming rights deal with the Redskins in 1999 worth $205 million; if FedEx does remove its signage, it’ll be six years before the deal is set to expire, the Post noted.
The letter was sent from FedEx’s general counsel to the general counsel at Washington Football Inc., the Redskins’ corporate name, on July 2, according to the Post, which said a person who had read the letter but did not have the authority to share it or speak publicly about it summarized the contents to the newspaper.
Though it never directly mentioned the Redskins name, the letter reportedly claimed that the name — which has history as a racial slur against Native Americans — could be harmful to FedEx’s reputation, and is not in line with the company’s philosophy of diversity and inclusion.
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It also said that FedEx has an obligation to stockholders, team members and customers to ensure all business partners share those corporate values, and that a name change would help the team restore its reputation and improve public perception, according to the Post.
Frederick Smith, the founder, chairman and CEO of FedEx, is a part owner of the Redskins. He, Robert Rothman, and Dwight Schar collectively own 40 percent of the team, the Post reported.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx told PEOPLE in a statement the same day the letter was sent.
On Friday, FedEx referred to the initial statement in response to PEOPLE's request for comment about the Post story.
FedEx's request to the Redskins came one day after reports that 87 investment firms worth a collective $620 million issued letters to FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo requesting that they cut ties with the Redskins until the team changes its name, according to Adweek. Seemingly in response, Nike removed all Redskins merchandise from its online store.
Shortly after, the team told PEOPLE in a statement that it was launching “a thorough review of the team’s name,” a move that formalized initial discussions with the league that had occurred in recent weeks.
“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” team owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement.
When reached by PEOPLE on Friday, the team said it would not comment further until the review has been completed.
The Redskins have used the team name since 1933, and Snyder told USA Today in 2013 that he would “never change the name” despite efforts, including some in court, to do so over the years.
However, a renewed call for a name change has emerged in light of social justice and police brutality protests that began in late May and have continued on into July following the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
The Redskins’ head coach Ron Rivera has supported the cause, and said in a statement that the issue is of “personal importance” to him, and that he hopes to “continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”