After nearly 100 years of being marred by racially insensitive branding, the Washington football franchise will drop the Redskins moniker! (Cue celebration!) The team announced Monday that it would “be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of a review”. The action was prompted after FedEx threatened to prematurely end their $205 million deal if the name wasn’t dropped. FedEx has owned the naming rights to Washington’s stadium since 1999. The shipping magnate sent a two-page letter to Washington’s top executives that referred to the name as racist and cited the sections of the teams’ agreement that allows FedEx to opt-out should they deem the partnership detrimental to their brand.
In 2013 Washington owner Dan Snyder told USA TODAY “[the team] will never change the name of the team.. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use that in all caps.” Snyder grew up just six miles north of D.C. and is a lifelong Washington fan. He has owned the team since 1999. Two years prior, the name played a major role in the franchise being unable to remain in D.C. proper. Despite their “people-first philosophy,” FedEx has declined to make a statement regarding their letter to Washington. The company did say that it “apprentices the team’s decision to change its name and logo.
As the instigator for Washington’s name change, it is easy to paint FedEx as morally just, but they deserve scrutiny as well. It was, and likely will remain, Washington’s primary source of sponsorship income. It wasn’t until after nation-wide protests swept the U.S. and the subsequent hit to the economy that FedEx took issue with the name. By remaining mute on the subject of a racist name until just now, the company proves it is not making a social justice stance. The focus has instead been on keeping stock numbers up.
Nobody is quite sure what comes next for Washington. The organization has remained tight-lipped, with no more than whispers of the internal discussion. The team is in a trademark battle currently, per the Washington Press. The other party? Likely Virginia’s Martin McCauley. McCauley has been filing trademarks for potential rebrand names since 2014; he describes it as “a fun hobby.” His list of names include many of the leading options, such as Red Wolves and Warriors.
The whole situation has gone to prove two things. Firstly, Dan Snyder is one of the worst active owners in all of sports, and secondly, money will make anybody do anything. After two decades worth of outrage at the team’s name, Snyder did nothing. He stood stagnant, like a rock remaining upright through tremendous winds. But eventually, some force, greater than human decency finally tipped Snyder over. That force? Money.
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