Nike pulls Washington Redskins apparel from its website amid team name controversy

WASHINGTON -- Nike appeared to have pulled Washington Redskins merchandise off its website Thursday night hours after team sponsor FedEx publicly called on the franchise to change its name.

Searches on Nike’s website for the team's apparel yielded no results. The Washington Redskins name was also scrubbed from a menu listing all 31 other NFL teams on Nike’s online marketplace.

Nike did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

Merchandise disappeared one day after a group of 87 investment firms sent letters to three of the Redskins’ prominent corporate sponsors. Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo were urged to pressure Washington team officials to change the name and to end their business relationships with the franchise if ownership would not comply.

FedEx holds naming rights to Washington’s home stadium and its CEO, Fred Smith, holds a minority ownership stake in the franchise. In a statement earlier Thursday, the company said it had asked the team to change its name.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement to FOX Business.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has said for years that he will never change the team name. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged in 2018 that a name change was unlikely to occur.

In their letter to Nike, the investment groups praised the company’s support for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who led player national anthem protests in 2016, but noted it has profited from the sale of Redskins merchandise.

“In light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name,” the firms said in the letter addressed to Nike. “Therefore, it is time for Nike to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”

Nike has been the NFL’s official supplier of uniforms and sideline gear since 2012. The current agreement runs through the 2028 season.

While Nike has sold team apparel in recent years, the company has distanced itself from the Redskins team name. Last fall, Nike sold “Salute to Service” hoodies to benefit military charities and referred to the team as “Washington Football.” The Redskins were the only NFL team whose hoodie did not reference their name.