What’s In A Name? Arguments For and Against a Redskins Name Change


If you’re like me, the excitement over Washington’s team name seems silly. It’s just another example of politically correct, have no life, Twinkie eating, lonely, living in their parent’s basement, “peace man” saying, leather vest wearing, mustache growing, Dr. Who watching, wack-job.

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And maybe, like I had to, you’ve admitted that you were way off.

Changing the name of the Washington Redskins isn’t as easy as some think. It is a name that’s been attached to a proud, often successful franchise in the NFL for decades. And it does seem rather obvious that Dan Snyder has the backing of The League and his peers (silence among the owners can only be interpreted as support).

The NFL and its team owners are incredibly powerful and wealthy. Taking them on is no easy task. Add to that the fact most Americans disagree with the name changeAgain, no easy task.

Why The Name Should Remain

The name Redskin wasn’t the original name of the team. In fact, Washington wasn’t their first home. In 1932, Boston was their home and Braves was their name. Braves was chosen due to the baseball team’s use of the name. In 1933, then owner George Preston Marshall made the change to Redskins to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team.

This makes the team name change 81-years old. Eight decades of tradition is an argument most often used by proponents of the Redskin name.

When the name was changed by Marshall his head coach was Lone Star Dietz, a Native American. It was believed Redskins was used in honor of Dietz. A newspaper article would dispute this and Marshall admitted it wasn’t done “specifically” for Dietz or other Native American members of the team.

Regardless, at the time the name was introduced, no individual or group showed offense or challenged Marshall.

Roger Goodell used the fact Marshall chose the name to partly honor Dietz as a way to show its positive beginning (more on that later).

Dan Snyder has said the name will “NEVER” change. He is the owner and until told differently by a court, I believe him. Even if told by a court, the name won’t change unless it’s The Honorable John Roberts tells him. So “NEVER” seems about right.

Why The Name Should Change

Allow me to make this simple. Under no circumstances should employers like the NFL and The Washington Redskins ever use names or language that will offend its own people or its customers or the public.

I’m the first person to say we are now a nation of paper mache skin. Every word and action is up for racist debate. Many (far too many) people use race as a defense for the indefensible. But this isn’t about race.

This is about tradition. No Mr. Snyder, not a tradition of First downs or Super Bowls.

One of my favorite quarterbacks of all time is Mark Rypien. Mark is a Spokane native and even a better person than player. Mark was a Redskin. He is a Super Bowl winning Redskin and because of him I’m a fan of this team. Not even close to my passion for Seattle though (I don’t get upset when Washington loses….except against Dallas). But this post isn’t about my feelings regarding the team.

It’s simply about listening to the people who feel this is a name as bad as any racist name in society.

Roger Goodell once said, “I think what we have to do though is we have to listen. If one person is offended, we have to listen.”

I’m thinking it’s time to listen. Don’t go through the motions for the camera. Truly hear their words and understand them.