Letter to the Editor

Renaming the Redskins

Regarding the Feb. 8 Metro article “Redskins name change urged at race symposium”:

A Redskins fan for almost 40 years, I sympathize with those offended by the team’s name. It makes me increasingly uncomfortable. Suzan Shown Harjo and others correctly argue that “redskin” could never be an honorific; the word is a relic from an era when racial epithets were part of everyday discourse. It simply has to go. However, I have my own grievance surrounding the team’s name.

Why is the team called the “Washington” Redskins? Ms. Harjo, complaining about the name, is quoted as saying, “And it’s in the nation’s capital.” Since when? The team’s management is headquartered in Ashburn, where players practice. Its summer camp is moving to Richmond. The team’s owner resides in Maryland, where the team’s home games are played.

Washington used to have an NFL team but not anymore. Placing the city’s name next to “Redskins” is not only inaccurate, it is also insulting. 

The obvious compromise is to call the team the Skins. The name is simple and recognizable. It honors local tradition while allowing us to bury a little deeper our nation’s racist past. Players would be assigned helmets in a solid color, either burgundy or gold.

Bill Coe, Washington

Perhaps we could consider the Washington Bureaucrats for the short list. Certainly this would portend strategic formations and aggressive energy, albeit with some risk to extending the team’s recent stellar performance. The Bureaucrats (“Crats” for short) would embrace a no-huddle offense, choose frequently to punt, show a penchant for delay of game and no doubt organize some sort of campaign for a “fifth down” option in overtime. This could make for an interesting season. But wait, we would still have to consider the salary cap. Nope, the name won’t work — back to the drawing board.

C.P. Linton, Frederick

My suggested name (well, in truth, it’s my son’s idea) is the Washington Drones. On the bright side, the name could be seen as emphasizing teamwork — drones are unmanned, so no one person can take the credit for a win (or be blamed for a loss). For the realists among us, it would represent the violent nature of a sport whose management doesn’t care about the well-being of its players or the ethics involved in treating injuries. Finally, the name gets to the heart and soul of D.C. culture, serving as a symbol of the rambling, incoherent and meaningless sounds emanating from Capitol Hill on an hourly basis. Go Drones!

Marian Cavanagh, Oakton

The Washington Justice. Team logo: The scales of justice. Alternate nickname: The Hammer. Distinctive of our region? Yes, from the Supremes to the Justice Department to K Street lawyers to pro bono advocacy for the downtrodden. Tradition? Beyond Choo Choo in the early 1950s, it will hail Thurgood Marshall standing on the steps of the highest court in the land in 1954, the arrival of Bobby Mitchell in 1962, the overdue opportunity for Doug Williams to lead the team to victory in the 1988 Super Bowl, and American Needle v. NFL in 2010.

There will be precedents and arguments: Dallas v. Washington, Sonny v. Billy, and 3-4 v. 4-3. There will be illegal motions, judgment calls, rulings on the field, suspensions, fines and appeals. Offensive linemen will tip the scales; head coaches will lay down the law. Concessions will sell Burgers, Brewers and Frankfurters. There will be moral victories and righteous indignation.

And most important: Though its wheels grind slowly, by dropping the racial slur for good, Justice will prevail.

Cliff Goodman, Bethesda

 
Read what others are saying