Well...I'm a fan of the team. They won Super Bowl XVII (lord, I'm old) and I said they're my new favorite team. Had Miami won, well, Go Dolphins. But I was a kid and that's what I said. Unknowingly, I had integrity: I WAS a Redskins fan, and have been ever since. Simple as that. It helped that my parents followed different teams, and I could never get interested in the bumbling franchise in the dome.
So, when you're a kid, you get a lot of merchandise as a gift. A Redskin maroon satin jacket. (Hello 80's!) Redskin caps, jerseys, knock-off T shirts (which we'll see again, it seems), trash cans. If they had it, I was for it. Then one year I got this as a gift:
This was the NFL's idea to market to kids...maybe even those not interested in football. Each team's doll is literal: the New York Jets is a cartoon plane wearing a helmet. So, they went all-in and in my childlike mind, I liked it as I did the rest. He's smiling because yay, football! He's not "stoic" like the guy on the helmet, which I took to be the guy in the anti-pollution ad (who, I found out later, was actually Italian...but that's showbiz).
Move forward a year or two, and in Social Studies class a flighty substitute teacher talked to us about how cultural norms change through time. "Stanford used to be called the Indians! All these things say Indians at the school. What happens to that stuff?" Being a sports nut, I offer that it becomes a new word I'd learned but can't spell, "memorabilia." "YES! It's all the past." It makes me wonder if the Redskins would be changed...but considering I only read the Sports and Cartoons sections of the newspaper, I had no idea if this was actually being discussed.
A successful decade for the team culminated in Super Bowl XXVI at the old Dump Dome. Through wheeling and dealing, I'd be attending the game. My clothing of choice was a simple Redskins sweatshirt with a supposed old team photo. The logo on the shirt was the size of a quarter, and I feared I should make a bigger deal...even if I was in the end zone, upper deck. For every band-wagon fan there, you'd see an old guy in the full-on Native American gear. What also tempered my outfits were the known facts of a planned protest by Native Americans in front of the stadium. And believe me, you couldn't miss it entering the dome.
Game day, my father and I deftly tried to pass the group and walk up the concourse. Soon, I was accosted by a young protester, Native American, and larger than me. All that was showing was my cap, but that was enough. "Hey!" I'm grabbed by the jacket. "Redskins are gonna lose." Before I can respond, my father (not a sensitive man in nearly any way) grabs me and yells "Go play some bingo." A fight is avoided due to the sheer amount of people getting into the stadium but the whole event (the accosting and my dad's response) stayed with me for weeks. I'm just a fan...am I doing something wrong? What should I do differently? My next hat purchase was a 60's styled R with two arrows at the bottom. I still wear it and like the look, but no one knows what team it is. And yes, I guess it means my dad is a jackass in nearly any situation.
The following season, Washington played at Kansas City, and the anticipated protest arrived in full force. After that season, however, you didn't hear about this issue or see as many protests. This was aided by the fact, I think, that the team turned to absolute dogshit when Joe Gibbs retired. They aren't good, they aren't on TV, and it's put to the back burner of cultural issues.
20 years later, it ramped up again, louder than ever. Why the quiet and then the ramp-up? I'll never know. The trademark removal this week isn't the tipping point, because if you're expecting either Redskins owner Dan Snyder or NFL Kommissar Roger Goddell to "make the right decision" about anything you're out of your mind.
So do I think the name should be changed?
Sure. Change it back then, change it now, change it five years from now. My question back is: We're not going to have a STUPID name going forward, are we?
The Washington Federals. What the fuck? No! We tried that once already...
The Washington Americans. Well...all NFL teams are American.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? There would be a new problem, on a much smaller scale, of course...but a problem. If the new name was awful, people would STILL WEAR REDSKINS STUFF...maybe even call them that forever. Can't you see some middle-aged guy? "Well, I grew up in Wheaton and I've always called them the Redskins. I'm not changing."
My suggestion: the Washington Razorbacks.
- Same team initials.
- You can even keep the "R" helmets from the 70s (though the feathers would be debated).
- The offensive line is still referred to as the Hogs, another tie-in.
- The name is nearly as long as the current name.
The Washington Razorbacks. Love them Hogs. Go Hogs!
There...everyone happy? What - Arkansas fans are pissed off? Eh...