Saturday, February 16, 2013

On the "Redskins" Name and What Will Be of the Washington Football Team

(Is this The End?)
I'm not going to write that the name "Redskins" isn't offensive. I don't think that's right for me to tell you that or even agree with that notion. There are some who consider it the N-word for Native Americans (including some Native Americans, not just members of the media stirring up an issue to sell papers or drive up internet traffic). The same group of Native Americans, the NCAI, who consulted with the Redskins decades ago and led to the creation of the current logo (see above helmet) have stated that they would like to see a name change. If that's the case, then I don't have a problem if the team does decide to change the name in the future. I will say as a fan of the team going on nearly 30 years I have had a great deal of pride for my football team and the name never meant anything to me but the highest respect to the people and culture the team was supposed to represent not that it will make anyone less offended. This team has always been "the good guys" to me and I know that beyond the game on the field the organization has done a great deal of good works for the communities surrounding DC/MD/VA. Deep down I believe that the franchise (at least post George Preston Marshall) never meant to offend anyone.

The current stance by the team is that nothing is going to change. Eventually, either by lawsuit, force by the league or just being tired of the controversy the name probably will be changed. I have a theory on what this team will be in the next decade or so but we'll get to that in a second. I want to first address some people who have discussed the topic as of late.

1. Jim Vance (WRC-4's legendary news anchor). I grew up with WRC-4. Jim Vance, George Michael, Redskins Report etc. etc., so I've always enjoyed the commentary of Mr. Vance even when I don't agree with him. He took on the Redskins name in this segment:

In this case, I fully agree with him. This isn't the first time the name "Warriors" has been suggested as an alternative name for the team. Heck, I remember there being discussion threads back on ExtremeSkins going back to 2006(?). Sure, it doesn't sound right and "Hail to the Warriors" may take some time getting used to, but you can keep the same themes, team colors but without the offensive name right? All is good, right? Wrong. Here's the problem: Many in the "Redskins name is offensive" crowd don't just want to see the end of Redskins, they want to see the end of all Native American/Indian iconography and imagery in sports. That includes the names Indians, Warriors, Chiefs and Braves. So the Redskins couldn't become the Warriors or even their original namesake The Braves without the same issues that we're seeing now.

2. DC Mayor Vincent Gray. Gray started the 2013 campaign of changing the team name with his comments about the Redskins coming home to DC. More or less, Gray said that the Redskins wouldn't be getting a new stadium in DC without the discussion of a name change. The funny thing is that it's not been the Redskins organization that's been desperate to come "home"'s been DC's politicians who've been desperate to get the Redskins back. Really Mr. Mayor, did you think you have any leverage on the Redskins? Any at all? DC politicians have been so desperate to to get the Redskins back and build them a stadium since they left, that almost every Mayor or councilperson seems to have an article written about them wanting to spend taxpayer monies to bring them back. This from a city like many other cities and states in our country that are deep in the red when it comes to their budgets. Yet, they are willing to spend more to get the Washington football team back because of the tax revenues and job creation (and other events that could be held with a new stadium) that would happen.
(Could this be the man who keeps football out of DC for the next 30 years?)
Instead, while the Redskins are in the middle of a lease with PG county, Gray goes off to the media in clearly a political move trying to impose changes to a team that currently is not in the works to bring a new stadium to DC. We know Dan Synder's persona. He is a big of a fan as he is an owner and doesn't take too kindly to attacks by anybody- especially when it comes to his team. This may be enough to give DC a big F-U when it comes time to look for a new stadium. Maybe Snyder stays in Maryland or he has a new stadium built in Virginia. Virginia, the same state who has welcomed the Redskins with open arms by cutting deals to keep the team headquarters in Ashburn and have training camp start in Richmond for the next 8 years. Mr. Gray you may be getting pats on the back from the media and your political allies now, but you probably have cost DC the Redskins- something which will probably haunt you for the rest of your career.

3. The Media. This especially includes Mike Wise, PFT's Mike Florio and other national media members. First thing, I don't need white men telling me what is racist and what is not racist. I find it ironic, hilarious and downright offensive that they feel the need to tell fans of this team that they're racist. I could rant about who Wise has worked for and how they've made tons of money over the years by selling stories about the Redskins or how Florio is the football equivalent of TMZ and probably still thinks Terry Bradshaw is dead (he's not, Florio just reported that awhile back) but you probably know that already. The second is that it always seems that when football season ends, various media/websites try to come up with ways to get more page hits view, papers sold. Interesting that now, during a dead period in football, that the media is jumping on the annual bandwagon of "The Redskins name is offensive". Serious concern or just trying to make a buck off of controversy? You decide.

4. Never Understood This. Now maybe this happens in Cleveland and since I don't live in Cleveland I don't hear about it. But how come the Redskins are so offensive and yet the baseball team in Cleveland is named The Indians and has a mascot that looks like this:
and yet is not considered offensive? Not trying to get the Indians into any issues with name/logo issues but I never hear about their team or logos being offensive.

So What's Going to Happen?

Here's my scenario (this is me being a bit facetious but bear with me). The Redskins will eventually decide/are forced to change their name, but what should it be? The Native American elements will be removed (for reasons as I mentioned above) so the team will look for something new. The team could go with a common career (like Packers or Steelers or 49ers) in the DC area but unless the team wants to be more hated than the Raiders names like Politicos, Senators, Congress and Presidents are out. There's really no current scary, dangerous animal in this area to take as a mascot/name, but the 'Skins could go after the Hog nickname and becomes the Hogs, Warthogs, Razorbacks, Boars etc. However, every year you'd have similar media along with animal groups like PETA come out saying the name is offensive and hurtful to animals and needs to be changed. Concept names like freedom and liberty are generally stupid for football teams and should be left for other sports. Of course the team could keep the name Redskins, but remove the Native American iconography and adopting the Redskin potato as our new logo.
(Spuds on the warpath. Mash for 'ol DC?)
I think this will happen: The former Redskins move their new stadium to Virginia. They keep the Burgundy and Gold colors and try to find a replacement name that will be popular and won't get grief to offend people. They go with the Virginia Velociraptors or Raptors for short. Then HTTR can still be used and people can sing Hail to the Raptors with some minor adjustments.

Plus..... goes with Burgundy and Gold

So they're you have it, problem solved. Let's welcome our new team and sing Hail to the Raptors. Now folks can go and find something else to complain about.

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