News & Politics

Institutional Investors Join Effort to Change the Name of DC’s NFL Team

Shareholders urge Nike, FedEx, and Pepsico to end dealings with the team if ownership refuses.

Native American leaders and other activists have devoted decades to an unsuccessful campaign to convince Washington’s NFL franchise to change its racist name. But now these activists have landed a powerful new ally: corporate investors.

According to Adweek, a group of 87 shareholders and investment firms—representing a total of $620 billion in wealth—have signed letters urging Nike, FedEx, and Pepsico to end their business dealings with DC’s NFL club if it continues to refuse to change its name.

In 2013, team owner Dan Snyder declared, “We will never change the name of the team.” However, amid the national reckoning on race that has followed the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, activists have renewed their efforts to change the team’s name. Investor pressure on corporate partners represents a new  tactic—and one that has proven effective in other arenas.

Many of the nearly 90 investment firms and trusts that signed the letter focus on social impact and faith-based investing strategies, according to Adweek. The leaders of the effort are First Peoples Worldwide, Oneida Nation Trust Enrollment Committee, and Trillium Asset Management.

In their letter to Nike, for example, the investors wrote: “We appreciate that Nike has spoken up in support of the protests stating ‘Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society.’ . . . However, Nike continues to provide uniforms and equipment to the Washington D.C. NFL football team which bears the logo and name. Further, it produces and sells thousands of jerseys and other apparel with the team’s racist name and logo. This association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”

See Adweek’s full report here.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.