FedEx stays out of Redskins controversy, investors fear backlash

"We really don’t have any dog in this issue," FedEx says of the team that plays at FedEx field.
By Matt Bradwell  |  June 20, 2014 at 5:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- Days after the Washington Redskins lost their trademark registrations, corporate partner FedEx is facing pressure from investors to revalute their relationship with the NFL team.

"FedEx has a responsibility to do more and to respond to the ongoing reputational damage generated by this controversy, reminiscent of Aunt Jemima, blackface and other racist uses of African American people and heritage," Sister Valerie Heinonen of Mercy Investment Services told USA Today.

"The issue isn't going away -- nor should it."

Mercy Investment Services is one of a consortium of investment firms that filed a shareholder proposal in April asking FedEx to reconsider its relationship with Dan Snyder's football team, lest it suffer "reputational damage." The firms went public with their proposal yesterday after the U.S. patent board canceled the team's six federal trademarks on grounds of disparagement.

Despite the increasing controversy, FedEx is actively staying quiet about Washington's team name.

"We have a long-standing contract with Washington Football Inc.," FedEx CEO Fred Smith told CNBC.

"The Redskins play at FedEx Field, but there are many many other events there: the Rolling Stones, Notre Dame, Army and Navy football, Kenny Chesney. So that's our sponsorship, and we really don't have any dog in this issue from a standpoint of FedEx."

Smith is also a member of Redskins ownership.

"FedEx doesn't think this is a particularly important issue," said Reed Montague, sustainability analyst at Calvert Investments, one of the firms asking FedEx to weigh in.

"We do. How can you put a price on human value?"

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