AS DISAPPOINTING as was Sunday’s playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, Washington football fans — and the team they love — can hold their heads high. A team no one predicted would make it into the postseason ended up clinching the NFC East. Many ingredients of that success, including promising young players, will be back next season. But the team’s future continues to be clouded by owner Daniel Snyder’s insistence on clinging to a name that brings discredit.
Mr. Snyder does seem to be looking ahead: A report by the Sports Business Journal that the team has hired a trendy Danish architecture firm to design a new stadium is the clearest sign yet of the team’s plans to leave FedEx Field in Prince George’s County. Exactly where a new stadium might go is up in the air, with Mr. Snyder saying that Maryland, Virginia and the District are all possible. Thus does he set the conditions for a bidding war among the three jurisdictions.
The specifics of any proposal using any public resources for a new stadium would need to be carefully examined. That said, the logical and obvious move would be to return the team to its former home in the District where RFK Stadium sits. With waterfront vistas that can’t be beat, the site is centrally located with a Metro station and highways that connect it to the entire region. “It’s the only place that makes sense,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). The former owner, the late Jack Kent Cooke, wanted to build there, but he couldn’t reach a deal with D.C. officials and left in a huff for Landover.
That pique-inspired decision led the team to a location so ill-conceived and inconvenient that people want to pull the plug before the lease expires in 2027. But if he doesn’t budge about changing the team’s name, Mr. Snyder makes a return to the RFK site unlikely. And toward what end? To continue to offend people with a name that denigrates Native Americans and is so clearly inappropriate that its use is minimized or avoided in sports broadcasts and news accounts? Why delay the inevitable?
Mr. Snyder will say his stubbornness is all for the fans, and certainly some Washingtonians are deeply attached to the name, with no animus intended. But the fan devotion that was so evident Sunday and in the days leading up to the playoff game is much deeper than attachment to a name. Mr. Snyder should do what is right, both because it would serve fans’ interest to move the team back to its logical place — and because, all things being equal, it’s good not to demean people.
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