Sponsor FedEx asks Redskins to change their name; Nike removes team gear from online store

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FILE – In this Aug. 7, 2014 file photo, the Washington Redskins logo is seen on the field before an NFL football preseason game against the New England Patriots in Landover, Md. A federal judge has ordered the Patent and Trademark Office to cancel registration of the Washington Redskins’ trademark, ruling that the team name may be disparaging to Native Americans. The ruling Wednesday by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee affirms an earlier finding by an administrative appeal board. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium wants the NFL team to change its name.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,“ FedEx said in a statement Thursday.

The company paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2018, file photo, FedEx Field is less than full during the second half of an NFL football game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants in Landover, Md. The title sponsor of the Redskins’ stadium wants them to change their name. FedEx said in a statement Thursday, July 2, 2020, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.“ (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)

In addition to the stadium name and sponsorship agreement, FedEx CEO Frederik Smith is a minority owner. Majority owner Daniel Snyder has shown no indications he’ll change the name since buying the team in 1999.

Amid the national debate over race, pressure has been mounting on the organization to abandon the name called a “dictionary-defined racial slur” by experts and advocates.

Investors this week wrote to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors asking them to request a change. FedEx is believed to be the first to take action.

On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. The other 31 NFL teams were listed and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results. Nike did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.

Asked about Snyder changing the name, a spokesman said recently the team had no comment. The team last week removed the name of racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame at FedEx Field, and a monument to him was removed from the site of the old RFK Stadium.

Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser also said the name was an “obstacle” to the team returning to the District. The team’s lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and it is still talking to Washington, Virginia and Maryland about building a new stadium.

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