Just one day after a major sponsor of the Washington Redskins issued a rebuke of the football team's controversial name, the franchise announced it will "review" the moniker. FedEx, "a Fortune 100 company that for more than two decades has tied its brand to that of the team," as The Washington Post reports, made the request on Thursday after investors worth more than $620 billion in assets urged the company to cut ties with the team unless the name was changed. Nike, another sponsor, removed Redskins merchandise from its online store Thursday.
The move is significant because it suggests the battle over sports team names "has shifted from moral appeals to business and political tactics," the Post says, especially as the U.S. grapples with its long history of racial inequality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
FedEx owns the naming rights to the team's stadium in Maryland, so its opinion could matter quite a lot. Team owner Daniel Snyder has long been pressured to change the team's name, but he's previously claimed the name honors Native Americans. This is the first time he's relented. "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," Snyder said in a statement.
President Trump slammed the NFL and Nike on Twitter on Wednesday morning, saying the sportswear company is getting "absolutely killed" for its new advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick.
Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!
Trump's tweet comes two days after Nike announced the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback as one of the faces of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" ad campaign. The decision won the support of NBA star LeBron James — also a Nike athlete — who ended a speech Tuesday night by saying, "I stand with Nike, all day, every day," Bleacher Report writes. But the company has seen social media backlash since the Kaepernick announcement, with the hashtags #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt trending on Twitter, Bloomberg reports.
Trump remained relatively quiet in the immediate aftermath of the ad announcement, but he told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he thinks the ad sends a "terrible message." He has also consistently railed against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality — the movement Kaepernick started — calling them "sons of bitches" and saying they should be fired.
Of course, it wasn't the protests that ultimately ruined football for Trump. Way back in 2014, the president blamed his "magnificent imagination" for making NFL games seem "boring." Marianne Dodson
Are NFL games getting boring or is it just my magnificent imagination? In any event, I'm just not watching them much anymore!