FedEx, the sponsor of the stadium in which the Washington Redskins play, requested that the team change its name.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement on Thursday. Native American groups have argued that the team name is racist.
On Friday, the team responded by saying that a review will be carried out to formalize “the initial discussion the team has been having with the league 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 Dan Snyder said in a statement after renewed calls to change the name and logo.
The statement noted that the discussion is being held “in light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community.”
Ron Rivera, the head coach of the team, said that the “issue is of personal importance to me, and I look forward to working closely” with team leaders to support “Native Americans and our military,” without elaborating.
FedEx paid $205 million to the team in 1998 in a deal that runs until 2025 for naming rights on the stadium, which is located in Landover, Maryland. Frederick Smith, the CEO of FedEx, owns a stake in the team.
Native American leaders have tried to force Snyder to change the name of the team, which was established in 1933. Groups have protested the name and attempted to win in court, all of which have failed.
In 2013, Snyder told USA Today that he would “never change the name” of the team. “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, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season,” he said.
“It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps,” Snyder said.
Former Redskins player Brian Mitchell told Sky Sports on Thursday that it appears “inevitable” that the team will change its name due to corporate pressure from FedEx and Nike.
“But right now, this thing seems to be snowballing, and it’s going to be something that you really, really have to think about,” Mitchell said. “When you look at a lot of different things that are happening and transpired, right now, it seems to be the most fresh I’ve ever seen.”