By Erik Brady
The firms, which emphasize responsible investing, went public with their filing Thursday, one day after a federal trademark board canceled the team's six federal trademark registrations on disparagement grounds.
The filing represents a new battleground in the fight over the Washington club's controversial team name—sponsors. FedEx owns the naming rights at the suburban Maryland stadium where the Washington team plays.
Jonas D. Kron, senior vice president, director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, told USA TODAY Sports that the firms have been working on similar proposals since 2009. He said FedEx opposes having the proposal placed on the proxy for its annual meeting in September.
By Kent Hoover
“There is growing consensus that there is no reason for the team to continue to use a logo with a symbol that is contemptuous and condescending toward Native Americans,” said Sister Valerie Heinonen of Mercy Investment Services.
“FedEx has a responsibility to do more and to respond to the ongoing reputational damage generated by this controversy, reminiscent of Aunt Jemima, black face and other racist uses of African American people and heritage. The issue isn’t going away—nor should it.”
"We strongly encourage FedEx to address and examine its role in perpetuating and supporting such stereotypes,” said Reed Montague, sustainability analyst at Calvert Investment.
“Each time a game is broadcast or the team name mentioned, the company is perceived as supporting disparaging and racist language,” said Jonas D. Kron, senior vice president and director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, which provided assistance for the shareholder proposal.
By Josh Peter
Only Harris Teeter, a grocery store chain with stores primarily in the South, took a stance—supporting team owner Daniel Snyder and his vow to keep the Redskins' nickname.
FedEx, the company whose name is most closely tied to the Redskins because it owns the stadium's naming rights—the team plays at FedEx Field—distanced themselves from the legal proceedings rather than the team's use of the nickname.
Bank of America, Sprint Nextel and Coca-Cola were among the major sponsors that did not respond to requests for comment from USA TODAY Sports.
#RacistFedEx, #RacistBofA, #RacistSprint, and #RacistCocaCola all support the #Redskins slur, which denigrates Native people. #ChangetheName
EONM and NCAI
Native Americans Support Consumers Boycotting FedEx Corporation Over Sponsoring Racism in NFL
Sustainability Analyst at Calvert Investments Reed Montague said:
“As times change, so must our language. Given the historic and present connotations of the name, turning real people into caricatures and mascots or insulting a portion of our population with an offensive name is no longer acceptable in this day and age,” said Montague. “We strongly encourage FedEx to address and examine its role in perpetuating and supporting such stereotypes.”
By Erik Brady
The two-page letter, set to arrive Wednesday, comes one week after a federal trademark court ruled "Redskins" is disparaging to American Indians. Smith, who owns part of the team, told CNBC last week that his company does not have a dog in the fight and that he prefers to keep his personal view to himself. A company statement Tuesday said FedEx has a longstanding contractual commitment to naming rights at FedEx Field and that questions about the team name should be directed to the team.
"At FedEx Field, your company is allowing its iconic brand to be used as a platform to promote the R-word—a racist epithet that was screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands," says the letter obtained by USA TODAY Sports. It is signed by NCAI executive director Jacqueline Pata, Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter and United Church of Christ ministers John Deckenback and Graylan Hagler.
The letter notes that a section of FedEx Field is named for George Preston Marshall, the team's original owner, who was last in the NFL to integrate and only under pressure from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Attached to that the letter is a one-page document listing Marshall's racist history.
The article also offers a reply from FedEx's CEO:
@FedEx "doesn't have a dog" in the #Redskins battle--other than profiting from its support of the racist status quo.
Decision could cost millions
Meanwhile, pundits talk about the reality of a racist brand:
The question is not whether the football team will change its name, but when and how
By Mike Wise
After legal appeals are exhausted, this effectively could enable you, me and Robert Griffin III to go into business together on a super store across from FedEx Field, where we would undercut exorbitant NFL prices and make a mint. Worse for the team, patent lawyers say, if sponsors aren’t scared off by the mounting glut of negative publicity against the name, they can get shafted by banks, grocery stores and auto dealerships that aren’t official sponsors of the team yet will be legally allowed to put posters and banners in their windows.
This could take as little as two years and as long as a decade. But sure as training camp starts in July, if Snyder wants to play this out to its ugly end, his bullheaded defiance in the face of growing, sustained opposition eventually is going to cost himself and everyone in the NFL who shares in merchandising profits—including players—millions.
Social pressure has begat economic pressure. Yikes.
By Rodney Smith
Snyder should learn from the cautionary tale of Donald Sterling and the NBA. For Sterling, the costs of persisting in a battle of this sort are exceedingly high. Sterling will be viewed in history as a racist. The personal and economic costs are similarly significant for Snyder.
Other owners of the Redskins and their sponsors will soon find themselves backtracking rather than running the risk of being branded as part of a franchise that perpetuates a trademark that is perceived to be racist. As reputational costs mount, negative revenue implications will increase.
The Redskins depend on sponsorships and public support. Revenue from those groups will shrink as they assess the risk of being labeled racist. For example, Fred Smith, a co-owner, and Fed-Ex will be under increasing pressure to terminate their sponsorship, which is a major asset in the Redskin portfolio. Other sponsors and owners will follow.
The NFL is equally concerned with implications for its brand. The NFL and sponsors will pressure Snyder to relent. There are surely clauses in the NFL’s contracts and the contracts of sponsors with the Redskins that will permit them, if necessary, to take steps against Snyder, much as the NBA acted against Donald Sterling.