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The Washington Redskins will review their team name and consider a potential change after FedEx and other sponsors pressured the franchise, the team announced Friday.
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Officials said the review “formalizes the initial discussion the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.” Critics, including Native American groups, have long argued that the Redskins team name and logo are racist.
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“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.
The announcement comes one day after FedEx, the naming rights partner on Washington's home stadium, asked the team to change its name. Nike, the official supplier of NFL uniforms and sideline gear, scrubbed Redskins apparel from its website.
FEDEX ASKS WASHINGTON REDSKINS TO CHANGE TEAM NAME
The NFL's Washington franchise adopted its current team name in 1933. Snyder has said for years that he would never change the name. As recently as January 2018, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said a name change was unlikely to occur.
Goodell expressed support for the team's decision to review the name in a statement Friday.
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"In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step," Goodell said in the statement.
Redskins officials have been under mounting pressure to consider a change amid nationwide protests against racial injustice. Earlier this week, a group of 87 investment firms, with assets worth a combined $620 billion, sent separate letters to three key team sponsors — FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo.
In the letters, the firms urged each sponsor to pressure Washington officials to change the name and sever business ties if they refused to comply.
On Thursday, FedEx said that it had asked the team to drop the Redskins name. FedEX CEO Fred Smith holds a minority ownership stake in the franchise.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement.
PepsiCo, one of Washington's title sponsors, praised the team's decision to conduct a review.
“We have been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue. We believe it is time for a change," a PepsiCo representative told FOX Business. "We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today, and we look forward to continued partnership.”
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