FedEx is the first corporate sponsor to call on Washington, D.C.’s NFL team to change its racist name.
In a brief statement published to the league’s website on Thursday, FedEx said: “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
The shipping giant owns the naming rights to the team’s home stadium in Washington. The FedEx Corp. paid for the rights in 1998, and its contract with the stadium lasts through 2025, ESPN reported.
FedEx CEO Fred Smith also owns a minority stake in the team.
Native American groups and activists have long called for team owner Dan Snyder to change the name, which is a racial slur used against Native Americans, as well as its team logo, which features an illustration of a Native American face.
Change the Mascot, a campaign launched by the Oneida Nation in 2013, issued a statement celebrating FedEx and calling the company’s decision to put pressure on the team “historic.”
“FedEx is rising to the moment and doing the decent thing by challenging the team to stop disparaging and denigrating people of color by maintaining a team name that is an offensive racist epithet,” said the campaign’s spokesperson Ray Halbritter.
Snyder has resisted calls to change the team name for years. This week, however, Snyder has faced even more pressure to drop the name.
FedEx’s statement comes a day after 87 investment firms sent letters urging several large companies ― including FedEx, PepsiCo and Nike ― who had business relationships with the NFL team to terminate their contracts if the team didn’t change its name, AdWeek reported Wednesday.
The group of investors represents $620 billion in assets, according to AdWeek.
Though Nike hasn’t yet publicly responded to the letter, the sportswear company appeared to remove the team’s apparel from its website. As of Thursday night, a search for Washington’s branded gear on the website returned zero results.
Change the Mascot on Thursday urged both Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to make changes to the team’s branding.
“The time to change the name is now, and we urge NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owner Dan Snyder to recognize this seminal moment in American history, do the right and decent thing, and finally change the name,” Halbritter said.
HuffPost has reached out to Nike for comment.