The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

People have been making the same Redskins potato suggestion for (at least) 27 years

(The Washington Post, November 1991)
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I’ll say this for Chris Cooley’s “out there” suggestion to rebrand the Redskins the Smurfs if the team is forced to change its name: it’s more original than the tired proposal to change the team’s logo to a potato and call it good.

Rush Limbaugh made the joke in May.

“Just change the mascot,” he said. “Just change the icon to a potato, a red-skinned potato. You know, dress it up, have a flashy looking potato, maybe put a football helmet on the potato or something, and you can keep calling them the Washington Redskins. There are red-skinned potatoes out there. Aren’t there?”

PETA offered the same suggestion last October. Tony Kornheiser didn’t mention potatoes in his 1992 column about the team name, but he’s since advocated transitioning to a tater.

There’s a Twitter account – @PotatoLogo — dedicated to retweeting people who make the potato proposal (more than 1,600 instances since late May). “Don’t worry: YOU were the first one to think of it,” reads the account’s bio. There’s a Tumblr account — Potato Dullards — that performs the same shaming service. (If my dad had a Twitter account, he’d be one of the guilty victims.)

Just how long have people been suggesting that the Redskins change their logo to a potato? Probably for 80-plus years, but The Post’s archives provide some idea.

Letter to the Editor:  The Redskins’ Name (Sept. 19, 1987)

Some people still insist on taking umbrage at the name of Washington’s football team. But there is a solution for the Redskins. Don’t change the name-just change the symbol. Why not have a peanut, a potato or an onion-all with red skins-as their symbol?

With the help of a good graphic artist and a top-flight advertising firm, just think what could be done to create this new image. Remember what they did for the lowly California raisin? The possibilities are endless: a cuddly peanut, a hunky potato, a sexy onion.

– David Lanphier, Washington

Letter to the Editor: Hail to the Redskins, Baked with Pars-Ley! (May 22, 1988)

Concerning [Richard Cohen’s column, ‘Redskin Reservations,’ in The Washington Post Magazine on April 17], a simple solution is at hand. We can keep the name “Redskins” and eliminate the derogatory nature of the Indian reference by making one small change–the logo. Change it to a potato–a redskin potato. The uniforms need not change except for the small circle on the helmet. In the place of the Indian profile, substitute the potato. Consider the grist for opposing fans (Mash the Redskins, Bake the Redskins.) I would hate to see the Redskins name be lost. This is a sensible solution.

– Allen N. Vetrano, Arlington

Letter to the Editor: Name That Team (Nov. 6, 1991)

I make the following modest proposal to reconcile the views of football traditionalists fixated on the name “Redskins” and native American groups that take offense at the word. Retain the team name. Change the team logo to a potato (this is in honor of the thousands of couch potatoes who each week stare at their TVs for hours of previews, games, interviews and post-mortems. The change could only increase the profits of stadium vendors, who would be able to peddle fried “Redskins redskins” to the fans. “Hail to the Redskins” could remain the team song, with the lyrics revised to tell a harrowing tale of storm damage to the potato crop.

– Robert C. Ashby, Arlington

Kornheiser in a January 1992 column about the fate of the Bandwagon after the Redskins’ Super Bowl win over the Bills.

“No, dip it in gold,” Jeff Bostic said. “But before you gold-plate it, take Riggo to Canton with it. Take the whole 5 o’clock Club.”


While we ponder that, The Bandwagon (copyright Anthony I. Kornheiser, U.S. Copyright Office 271742103724) would like to welcome Charles, Joanna and Adam Bier, who sent a pair of wool socks to me in Minnesota, Timothy Russert, who’s now eating Buffalo crow wings, Mike and Barbara Maddox, Garry and Debbie Henson, who met in the Redskins Marching Band, politically correct Don Connolly, who suggests the Redskins keep their name, but change their symbol to a redskin potato (“this would be breaking new ground, so to speak; I can’t think of another team named after a vegetable”), John H. Anders, Trish Krueger, “John” C. Kerins, Hawaii’s Mike and Stacey Keating, Jay Rhodes, who offered AAA coverage for The Bandwagon, Tim Brewer, who printed Bandwagon business cards, Michael Hughes and Derek Daves, Leslie Manculo, Jeff Barbour and Don G. Weaver, founding members of the Millwood, Va., Bandwagon Club, and Karen Gilbride, who was so eager to get a ride she offered to sit next to Rick Venturi.

Kornheiser again, in a 1993 column about Jack Kent Cooke’s plans to build a new stadium.

Now there are further complications. Ben Nighthorse Campbell threatens to hold up any stadium deal until the Redskins change their nickname. (This could be so easy. For years I’ve been advocating changing the logo from an Indian to a potato, and keeping the name “Redskins.” It’s funny, and, guess what, it solves the problem. How can you be offended by a potato on the helmet?)

Somehow, the joke won Norman Chad’s “Ask the Slouch” contest in May 2011.

Q. Since Washington Redskins management is unwilling to change their name in order to become non-offensive to Native Americans, couldn’t they simply switch their logo to a potato? (Duane Mathias; Parma, Ohio)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

If I had $1.25 for every time someone made that joke…

Thanks to @dcuniverse.