The Washington Redskins are facing growing pressure to change their name, with a number of major business interests working to force the move and Nike now pulling all Redskins gear from its website.
Activists have long called on the Redskins to change the name of the team, which they believe is offensive to Native Americans. With growing national efforts to address systemic racism through the Black Lives Matter movement and protests following the killing of George Floyd, the organization faces new and growing pressure from a number of powerful sources.
As Yahoo Sports reported, Nike was one of three companies to receive a letter from major investors asking them to cut ties with the Redskins unless the team changes its name. Nike appeared to follow through on Thursday, pulling the Redskins’ gear from its website.
As the report noted, the athletic apparel company’s NFL page removed the Redskins from the sidebar and applied a filter that omits Washington gear from search results.
“It’s unclear when Nike made this change to its website,” Yahoo Sports added. “AdWeek reported Wednesday that investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion sent letters to Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo last Friday.”
Nike had not released a statement on the decision, but many took to social media late on Thursday to note that the team’s gear had disappeared from the Nike website.
Nike’s decision follows a move from FedEx formally requesting that the team change its name. The company has naming rights to the stadium where the Redskins play, and CEO Fred Smith owns a minority share of the team.
Other political figures have weighed in as well, using leverage to attempt to force the Redskins to update their name. As NBC Sports Washington noted, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the organization’s insistence on not doing so has become a barrier to getting a new stadium within the district.
“I think it’s past time for the team to deal with [a name that] offends so many people,” Bowser said during an appearance on the Doc & Galdi show. “And this is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in history and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we feel for the team.”
Redskins owner Dan Snyder had previously resisted calls for the team to change its name, though it is not clear if the mounting financial and political pressure on the team could force him to make the move.