In July 1993, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D-Colo.) introduced a bill to block congressional approval of a proposed stadium for the Washington Redskins on federal land in Northeast Washington unless the team changed its name. An essay by Campbell, who was the only Native American in Congress at the time, in The Washington Post later that year prompted a letter to the editor from a reader who proposed a potential solution.
“I was impressed that Sen. Campbell does not advocate prohibiting the use of names that pertain to ‘character or courage,’ ” wrote David Snyder, a professor of sociology at Bowie State University. “I infer from this statement that the name of Atlanta’s baseball team, ‘Braves,’ would not be as offensive to him as it seems to be to some other Native American leaders (it just may be that the tomahawk logo is offensive). Therefore, to apply this logic to Washington’s team, they could become the ‘Warriors’ — Washington Warriors has a nice alliterative ring to it — and still retain the current, non-offensive logo.”
Nearly 30 years later, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder — no relation to David — is perhaps closer than ever to making the Washington Warriors a reality.
“We came up with a couple of names — two of them I really like,” Redskins Coach Ron Rivera said Saturday, one day after the team announced it is undergoing “a thorough review” of the name the franchise has had since 1933.
Rivera declined to reveal the possibilities but said he believes the most important criteria for a new name is that it is respectful of Native American culture and traditions and also is a tribute to the military. He indicated Snyder agrees with that sentiment. Warriors could fit the bill.
On his podcast Friday, The Team 980’s Kevin Sheehan said he had it “on pretty good authority” that the leading contender for the replacement name is Warriors.
“I don’t think that’s a reveal by any stretch,” Sheehan said. “I think people do know that the Redskins have marked Washington Warriors just in case and that this has been the way. … I would bet big money on the Warriors being the new name for the football team.”
Indeed, Snyder has already demonstrated his affinity for the Warriors name. It’s what he planned to call the Arena Football League team he purchased expansion rights for in 1999. Snyder applied for a trademark registration for “Washington Warriors” a few months later but has since abandoned the mark. The team, which was scheduled to begin play by 2003 and wear helmets modeled upon those worn by the Redskins in the 1960s, never came to fruition.
In 2013, Warriors was the winning entry in a contest sponsored by 99designs that featured 1,887 entrants.
Here’s a look at a few other potential replacement names:
In 2013, D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced a resolution calling on the team to change its “derogatory, racist name” to the Washington Redtails. The Redtails nickname was used by the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African American aerial combat unit, who broke the color barrier during World War II.
Mark Crosby, a high school cross-country coach in Madison, Wis., designed a Redtails logo and uniform set as part of the 99designs contest in 2013. Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins likes the name. Teammate Jonathan Allen is not a fan.
The Pigskins name would allow the team to keep “Go Skins!” and tap into the history of the “Hogs” from the franchise’s glory years.
Eric Doctor, the fan and graphic designer who launched the #FireBruceAllen movement in jest in December 2009, has created a website that offers Washington Pigskins apparel, with all proceeds going to the American Indian College Fund.
Trent Williams created a line of Hogs 2.0 T-shirts a few years ago. Hogs would create all sorts of fun branding possibilities, but perhaps this is trying too hard to hold on to the past. A related option? The Washington Warthogs, a nod to D.C.’s defunct indoor soccer team, which played at USAir Arena in the Continental Indoor Soccer League from 1994 to 1997.
Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, proposed Americans as an inclusive solution in 2013.
“Well, you’ve got the Nationals. What about the Americans?” Gover said. “You know in the 17th and 18th centuries when a European writer referred to Americans, they were not talking about the colonialists. They were talking about the Native Americans. And that’s how they were referred to. Even scientific literature at the time comparing the different races said, well, you’ve got Africans, you got Asians, you got Europeans and you’ve got Americans. It’s a much more inclusive term. So if you had a Native American image but the team was called the Americans, that starts to feel like something more like an honor. You’re not being singled out; you’re being included.”
Would the team consider changing its colors to red, white and blue to match most of the District’s other pro sports teams?
If the team decides not to completely abandon Native American imagery as part of its rebrand, Natives could be an option.
Another popular entry in the 99designs contest, Renegades would enable the team to keep its abbreviated slogan of “HTTR” and potentially some of its other branding.
Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, replaced its Redskins nickname with RedHawks in 1996. Redhawks is also the name used by American Indian activists who pulled off an elaborate spoof to protest the name in 2017.
“I can just see FedEx Field and the 80,000 people just howling like wolves,” former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot said of his personal favorite replacement name. “That would really be something.”
Honorable mentions, including names submitted by readers: Rainbows, Dee Cees, Swamp, Red Jackets, Rough Riders, Veterans, Federals, Monuments, Sentinels, Defenders
Please vote in the poll and leave your own suggestions in the comments.