What's In A Name?

There is a growing groundswell of dissonance against the Washington Redskins' team name. Is it the same old bleeding heart game, or is it time to get serious?

I think it might just be because it's the offseason; it usually makes us focus on things in football that aren't, you know, involving throwing a football. Then again, maybe not.

I was reading Uni Watch before work, and Paul, the man running Uni Watch, did an article written for ESPN about a symposium in DC about the use of Native American stereotypes and imagery in the world of sports. It is a good read, and pretty eye-opening: it's not just white people with some percentage of Native American blood spewing off some “pride” crap. There were honest-to-John Madden modern day American Indians giving their take on the imagery in sports.

This ball has been rolling for a while now, so to speak. Many feel that the Washington football team, the Cleveland baseball team, and the Chicago Fighter-Jets need a change in logo and/or team name. (Chicago has it easy—you can make the Blackhawks a Blackhawk jet). I agree. I mean, we've committed a genocide that we won't talk about against them (part of it was the smallpox and other diseases Europeans brought over, part was Andrew Jackson, and part was the manifest destiny), so we take their stereotypes and caricatures and use them to play sports that white people made?

In Honor of Lone Star Dietz"

Let's take the Washington Redskins for example. Really, the name is the worst out of all of them. It's like having a blackface for a logo and calling the team the Washington N-words. If that was the case, that name would have been changed in a snap, but because it's a slur towards Native Americans it's alright to keep around well into the 21st century?

Legend has it that when the Washington Redskins were originally the Boston Braves (when there was a baseball team also called that, that uses Native American imagery), former owner George Preston Marshall renamed the team the Boston Redskins “in honor” of William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz. Which is most like false, because the name change happened the same year that Dietz arrived to coach, and his record was 11-11-2. That's like the Eagles re-naming the team in honor or Ray Rhodes in 1995.

George Preston Marshall, while respected by the NFL for all the work he did improving the league, was a well documented racist. Racist to the point that he would make your racist uncle look like a saint. He refused to sign a single black person to the Redskins roster until the U.S. Department of Interior had to threaten to revoke the lease he had on D.C. Stadium (Now the RFK Memorial Stadium). Which is kinda funny, considering a quote by Marshall was that “[the Redskins] will start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.”

Oh boy, calling black people "Negroes"? Not even your racist uncle would do that.

Time Is Always On My Side

Let's look; the Washington football team has had the racist nickname for over seventy years now. It's not like they will just up and change the name tomorrow. Hell, it won't even happen next year. This isn't like getting high schoolers to stop using slang; re-branding a team is a long process that involves lawyers, marketing, and about four boatloads of money. This isn't the same NFL as it was seventy years ago: we have superstar players, authentic jerseys to sell you, T-shirts, travel mugs, cooking utensils, socks, underwear, hats, glasses, keychains, shoelaces that all have this name and logo on it. Football teams aren't just teams—they are a business. Ask any CEO that had to oversee a merger or a name change and he'll show you his year-long prescription for Xanax. It is a pain in the balls to oversee that. And sure, the Redskins are pretty loaded, but you don't stick around for seventy years without someone getting to know your name.

The thing is, this name change will happen. It will. Just not today, or tomorrow, or probably in the next five years. Paul Lukas, at the bottom of his ESPN article, predicts fifteen years. I say that's a minimum. Until it starts hitting their pocketbooks, the Redskins will keep chugging out their official NFL branded Nike approved K-Swiss Swiss Army Knives with a Redskin logo on it and it will be brought to you by Castrol, the official motor oil of the NFL.

What Will They Become?

What would be a good new name for the Redskins? I am hoping they go with Warriors; it's simple, it fits DC, and they could work the Pentagon as a logo into it. They can keep the burgundy and gold that we love so much, and we can still watch them play the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

However, even if they change their name, there will still be fans of that team. Sure, they'll still love to keep their Redskins jerseys and flags and such, that's okay. It'll become “collectors items” and “vintage”, and it'll be cool. But don't push something that isn't ready. Clearly, Dan Snyder and the NFL aren't really prepared to jump in and force a name change. Let's give it some time and do it right. It will happen. Trust me.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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