SNIDER: Redskins won’t be pressured into name change

Rick Snider
July 02, 2020 - 2:21 pm

Redskins owner Dan Snyder isn’t worried about politicians blowing smoke over the RFK Stadium site or investment groups threatening boycotts over the team’s name. It’s all theatrics.

The RFK site is dead for a number of reasons. The city doesn’t control the site long enough to offer a lease and the federal government hasn’t shown a willingness to sell it. Nearby resident opposition is high. The costs may exceed any reasonable deal.

District politicians are now claiming the name must go for any deal to happen because they know no deal will happen anyway. This way, politicians look supportive of the cancel culture without really take a stand on the name. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Meanwhile, major investment groups are suggesting major sponsors boycott the team, claiming it will make Snyder knuckle under to the only thing that really drives him – money. But, there are a few problems with that move.

First, those 87 investment firms asking FedEx, PepsiCo. and Nike to drop their relationship the Redskins means nothing. No matter these companies control a lot of money. It’s not money directly going to the Redskins so the numbers are overvalued. And, investment firms are not ending relationships with FedEx and such over this.

The Redskins are a privately-held company so Snyder has no stockholders to truly answer to given he has majority control. One minority owner is Fred Smith, who controls FedEx. Do you think Smith is moving against himself?

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The major sponsorship deals are leaguewide so the Redskins can’t be individually targeted. Maybe the preseason deals where teams cut short-term sponsorships can be influenced, but that’s side money versus regular-season contracts.

Meanwhile, assumptions the league can tell the Redskins to change the name are widely exaggerated. The NFL is a collective of 32 owners. They don’t like to be told how to run their teams and are always reluctant to tell others for fear it will come back on them. So, the 32 owners largely leave each other alone. They have considered the name demands before and nothing now will change the minds of fellow owners.

And don’t forget the trademark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that backed the Redskins’ rights.

Snyder has been on record of saying he will “never" ever change the name, but years go by and people can change. That said, no boycott will influence Snyder’s opinion.

Even a ticket boycott won’t work. The team has drawn miserably in recent years and Snyder still bought a $170 million superyacht because NFL teams typically gain only 15 percent of their revenues from ticket sales. If zero fans, which is not practical to predict, were not to come to Redskins games at most it would make Snyder say, "ouch" and not "uncle."

Whether changing the name may be the right thing is irrelevant. It’s all about business and vague threats of things, in the long run, won’t make a difference no matter how politicians sell it.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks