Nike appears to have removed all of its NFL fan apparel for the Washington Redskins from its website. The move follows pressure from another sponsor, FedEx, which asked the team to change its name.
Nike did not comment on the removal of the team’s product on site but, in a July 3 statement about changing the nickname said that: “We have been talking to the NFL and sharing our concerns regarding the name of the Washington team. We are pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.”
Earlier this week, Adweek reported that three letters signed by close to 90 investment firms and shareholders—collectively representing a worth of $620 billion—asked Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to cease their business relationships with the team until it changes the name.
The removal of Washington’s collection on Nike’s site was spotted at around 9 p.m. ET by a Twitter user that follows the team.
Carla Fredericks, director of First Peoples Worldwide and director of the University of Colorado Law School’s American Indian Law Clinic, applauded the move, noting that she believed that Nike would take a lead role in the issue. She said that the brand’s support of social justice issues and Colin Kaepernick were part of the reason.
“We’re really happy and encouraged to see that Nike is taking some steps to distance itself and eagerly awaiting whether or not there’s going to be some sort of formal statement soon.”
Crucially, according to Fredericks, Nike’s 2009 launch of the N7 program—which supports Native American and Indigenous communities, and has granted over $8 million to more than 270 organizations—showed that the brand was serious.
“Nike has had a long relationship with Native people,” she said. “And that relationship has been incongruous with their support for the Washington team. And bringing that relationship and commitments that they’ve made to Native people in alignment with their stated commitments on racial justice is an important step for the company.”
In 2013, primary team owner Daniel Snyder infamously told USA Today that,“We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”
Later that year, in a letter to season ticket holders, Snyder defended the nickname, attempting to show that its history—the head coach and four Native American players were on the team in 1933—should be considered a source of pride.
“2013 feels like a long time ago,” said Fredericks, an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota. “So many people have borne the brunt of racism in this country and there important, rising awareness. There’s an opportunity for the team to be part of that.”
FedEx, which paid $205 million for naming rights to the stadium Washington plays in, sent Adweek a statement on Thursday, saying, “