Opposition to the name “Redskins” is building momentum in the last several months. A conference today at the National Museum of the American Indian Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports is getting a lot of attention. The Redskins nickname has been the subject of many recent columns. At the very least, that was enough to get name-change proponent Paul Lukas down here — we got a UniWatch happy hour out of it.
Here are my positions:
- Redskins is historically a slur
- Redskins probably means “Washington D.C. football team” to many if not most Americans on first reference
- I don’t feel strongly about the name
- Change is inevitable, though probably not imminent
- Either way, a lot of people are going to be angry
I think the best case scenario is for owner Dan Snyder to figure out a strategy for changing the name and do it on terms that are most acceptable to the most amount of people. Involving prominent members of the team’s past and present would be critical to help with acceptance of the change — I nominate Bobby Mitchell, Joe Gibbs and Robert Griffin III.
ABC A – Always B – Be C – CHANGING
D.C. teams have changed names several times already. Before coming here, the Redskins were originally the Boston Braves, just like the old National League team. Then, when they moved to Fenway Park, they became the Redskins.
The Wizards were originally the Bullets, a name traced back to Baltimore, where they started out. They were Capital Bullets for their first season at the Capital Centre.
In baseball, the Nationals and Senators were used interchangeably to the point people weren’t even sure which one was the actual name! Charlie Brotman made it Senators officially in the mid-1950s. Then the team moved, but the expansion team that showed up the very next season kept the name. When baseball returned, Nationals was selected because D.C. didn’t have Senators.
The Washington Capitals have always been the Capitals though.
D.C. United has always been the MLS team’s name, but previous professional soccer teams were known as the Darts and Diplomats.
Okay, so a new name needs to be decided, let’s have some fun with it…
Bullies – Name it after the people who won’t shut up about the name? Hey now!
Bureaucrats – George Will does like to point out that football contains violence punctuated by committee meetings…
Burgundies – One of the two colors the team has claimed. There would be a lot of Anchorman jokes though, plus rival fans mocking the name because D.C. fans would rather drink a nice burgundy in the parking lot rather than a mass-produced light beer or something like fans from REEL FOOTBAW TOWNZ. Plus, the jerseys haven’t really been burgundy since 1960s.
Capitalsauruses, Capitalsauri? – Sounds too much like the hockey team and a dinosaur has been kind of cheesy in Toronto where the Raptors are an NBA team. Learn more about the Capitalsaurus on Ghosts of DC
Defenders – King of generic and sure to be ironic when DeAngelo Hall gets burnt in coverage.
Dukes – Some guy named Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in the District and he played the piano pretty well I’m told.
Federals – While the “Feds” doesn’t sound too bad, D.C.’s USFL team used that name and nobody looks back on them fondly. Almost nobody. (More to come on that)
Hogs – Named after the 1980s offensive line. Only one syllable which would mess up the meter of “Hail to the…” Maybe Red Hogs? They’d need to buy the HogsHaven logo.
Pigskins – winner of the CityPaper contest. Not bad, keeps the “skins” in D.C. and there is the connection to the “Hogs” but I’m not sure Joe Jacoby, George Starke, et al. like the idea of being skinned. Russ Grimm — maybe.
Red Arrows – Name may soon be available (The Mirror) apparently
RedBullets – Fix two nickname problems at once!
Red Lines – Exclusionary as it leaves out other Metro lines. Also, slow, old and broken down not the image one wants to project.
Red Tape – Too easy
Senators – was used in a multiple baseball incarnations, not used again because D.C. doesn’t have its own senators. Or technically, a professional football team in its borders.
Warriors – Pretty generic — really just a tougher sounding Wizards. The franchise already has “WASHINGTON WARRIORS” trademarked.
Werewolves – I’m seeing this suggested on Twitter, player video intros might be kind of fun
Wonks – Yay, alliteration
Redskins – Put a potato on the helmet! That was Tony Kornheiser’s idea. I think it’d be epic trolling too, but “spuds on the warparth” isn’t real exciting, is it?
Also, have you seen Mike Shanahan when he’s arguing a call?
In the end, I’d probably go with “Red Hogs.” Changing the team nickname to be based on offensive linemen is fairly respectable in my book.