The Washington Redskin’s football team announced on Monday, July 13, that it would change its name and logo that many considered a racial slur. This decision comes after decades of complaints from American Indian groups, human rights groups and countless others.
The team’s name was changed by former owner George Preston Marshall from the Boston Braves in 1933. A critic of desegregation in the 20th century, Marshall is now scrubbed from all team marketing materials and the team ring of honor. His statue was removed from the grounds of RFK stadium.
Activist investors pushed for change
Current owner Dan Snyder once vowed that the team would carry on the name as it had for decades, but those with the purse strings saw it differently. Responding to increased awareness of racial inequality and protests around the country, investment firms with a significant influence at such multi-billion-dollar corporate sponsors as FedEx (who owns naming rights to the team’s stadium), PepsiCo and others forced these sponsors to cut business ties with the team unless it changed its name.
This campaign’s turning point appears to be July 2, when the group went public about its intentions, bringing an estimated $620 billion of financial muscle to bear on the sponsors and business partners. These companies then pressured Snyder.
Stubbornness can only go so far. Nonetheless, Snyder likely will have access to a lot of doors formerly closed to him. It may also help minority owners looking to selling their parts of the team. There will also be dozens of new branding deals and partnerships that will offset the bruised ego suffered by the billionaire owner.
Team reviewing options
The other NFL teams have already begun to scrub the name and logo from their websites, marketing information and listings. However, there is no new name announced because the team is reportedly in negotiations over a trademark issue over its new name.