Open Letter from a Dallas Cowboys Fan
The Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen reiterated this week that the team does not plan to change their name in order to get a new stadium. That got me to think about this long national ordeal of a Washington Redskins name change.
Now, I’m not going to make any kind of grandbreaking contribution to the debate. What I advocate is something that’s appeared in other people’s lists. What I’m going to do is appeal to reason and common sense.
Maybe common sense has no role in the Washington Redskins name debate. Still, we can all try. I tend to be a peacemaker at heart, so I want everyone to get along. If people could just see other people’s point of view, the whole world would sing a song.
Name Change Options of the Past
Maybe not, but an endless stream of helpful people have suggested such a name change. The list includes 115 professional organizations, 24 Native American tribes, and countless public figures. The list includes Larry King, Bob Costas, Greg Gumbel, Frank DeFord, Cris Collingsworth, Phil Sims, Terry Bradshaw, Tony Dungy, and Ralph Nader. On the other hand, Andy Rooney, Rick Reilly, George Will, and Pat Buchanan have called for the name to remain the same.
Reams have been written on this subject. The Wikipedia page on the “Washington Reskins Name Controversy” cites 547 articles discussing the topic.
People have suggested a whole slew of names:
- The Blue Crabs
- The Braves
- The Wolves
- The Griffins
- The Red Hawks
- The Americans
- The Hogs
- The Diesels
- The Senators
- The Snyders
- The Warriors
- The Bravehearts
- The Redtails
- The Renegades
- The Pigskins
- Washington Football Club
In polls on the question, people tend to favor the Warriors, the Renegades, or the Washington Football Club. FC Washington sounds like some kind of soccer team, while the Renegades sounds like an arena football team or some fictional franchise from an Oliver Stone movie.
The Warriors is good and alliterative, but it’s been done to death. It’s akin to calling yourself the Tigers or the Bulldogs–solid, but unimaginative. Even my hometown alma mater used the term, though we were inventive and called ourselves the Purple Warriors.
Besides, I can’t imagine Daniel Snyder being forced to change the team’s name and deciding he would continue to invoke Native American culture. Put yourself in the position of an egotistical control freak used to getting their way. If I was this massive fan of a team my whole life, made a billion dollars, and bought that franchise, I would want my team to remain as it is. If some group (any group) put political on me to change the team name and forced me to change it, I would resent their imposition–however well-meaning it was.
Under those circumstances, I don’t think I would want to honor that culture with a more appropriate name. I’d say, “Okay, if you want to be that way, I’ll name my teams something which has nothing to do with your culture. I’ll name it something completely opposite of Indian names, such as ‘Cowboys’ or ‘Cavalry’ or some such.”
I’m not saying I’d agree with such spitefulness, but I’m saying that’s a likely reaction.
The Washington Hogs
I actually like the suggestion of calling the team the Washington Hogs. Once again, it’s rooted in the team’s history–a reference to the first all 300-pound line in NFL history, the Hogs squad of the 1980s. Also, Skins fans have been showing up with their pig snouts for decades.
I suppose, by that logic, you might as well call the team “The Smurfs”. For the millennials out there, the 1980s receiving corps consisted of legendary receiver Art Monk alongside a squad of lesser-known, smaller statured players: the 5’10” Charlie Brown, 5’8″ Virgil Seay, and 5’7″ Alvin Garrett. During the Superbowl years, these players were known as the Smurfs.
The Washington Pigskins
The Pigskins would be a nice touch. It’s a football reference. It has the same cadence as the original name. I can’t imagine Pigskins offending anyone. The problem is: would “pigskins” be good for 21st century marketing campaigns?
By human standards, pig are ugly. They’re funny looking. You see the Detroit Lions helmet and it looks like some medieval crest. If you looked at a Pigskins helmet, what would the pig look like? Porky Pig? Miss Piggy? An Arkansas Razorback?
It has possibilities, but I doubt it gets chosen.
Washington Redskins Name Change Joke
All of this talk about naming decisions reminded me of a joke email offered up by a family member the other day. They showed me a fake headline about the team changing its name to the Maryland Redskins to avoid associations with politics. SFX: Rimshot.
Okay, maybe that’s not the best joke, but it was cute. I laughed, because when I first saw it, the first thing I thought of was the idea this was going to turn into another tired debate about Daniel Snyder.
My Suggestion: Call Them the”Washington Skins”
Speaking of which, I guess I should finally get to the point. Everyone has some kind of an opinion, which brings me to my suggestion. It’s not original, but it’s logical. It references the team’s past, while being all-inclusive. In fact, it’s a name people use all the time, anyway.
Daniel Snyder should simply change the team’s name to the “Washington Skins”. Fans call the team “The Skins” all the time. “We’re going to the Skins game.” “The Skins beat the Cowboys last night.” “Go Skins!”
By doing so, team continues to reference its long and storied history. It’s better than calling the team something new and trendy like “The Heat” or “The Wild”. With names like that, you might as well call yourself “The Weather” or “The Forest”–it’s just lame.