The same day FedEx publicly asked Washington’s football team to change its name, it notified the team privately that unless the name is changed it would remove its signage from the stadium after the 2020 season, per the Washington Post.
FedEx signed a $205 million stadium naming rights deal with the team in 1999 and it’s not set to expire for another six years. The shipping company’s sentence request resulted in a statement by owner Dan Snyder the following morning that they will undergo “a thorough review of the team’s name.”
The email from the general counsel of FedEx to that of the team was “more detailed and pointed,” per the Post.
FedEx: Washington name poses risk to our brand
FedEx wrote to the team saying the name posed a risk to its brand by affiliation, which is why it would pull signage at the stadium. It said, per the Post, the name jeopardizes the favorable feelings FedEx has built with its customers.
As paraphrased by the person familiar with its content, the FedEx letter noted that the company was founded on a “people-first philosophy” and embraced and practiced diversity and inclusion. As such, it explained, the company is obligated to its stockholders, team members and customers to ensure that its corporate values were shared by its business partners.
The company did remain hopeful in the letter that the name could be changed and it would create a more positive perception of the team.
Snyder’s co-owners urged for name change
The founder of FedEx is one of three co-owners who have urged Snyder to change the name for years now, the Post reported.
Frederick Smith is the founder, chairman and CEO of FedEx. Along with Robert Rothman, chairman and CEO of private investment company Black Diamond, and Dwight Schar, chairman of the board of homebuilding company NVR, Inc., they own a combined 40% of the team.
The Post reported earlier this week they are looking to sell their stakes in the franchise and are “not happy being a partner” with Snyder.
Calls to rename the team have resurfaced after the death of George Floyd in police custody and national reckoning with racial relations. Snyder has spent years defending the name, once saying he would not change it, despite calls to do so by Native Americans. The name is seen as clearly racist and offensive.
He said late last week the team would do a “thorough review” of the name. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league had “ongoing discussions” with Snyder and is “supportive of this important step.”
Organizations end relations with team
FedEx was not the only company to put the pressure on Snyder. A letter urging Nike, FedEx and Pepsi to end their relationships with the team was signed by 87 investors and shareholders.
Nike quietly removed every Washington merchandise for purchase on its website and both Walmart and Target followed suit. They are three of the largest places to buy the apparel, which hits at the organization’s bottom line.
Amazon also announced it will pull a variety of Washington merchandise from its store that feature the name and the logo.
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