The P.R. effort by the Washington NFL franchise to engage — and in turn to unwittingly help legitimize — the long-simmering opposition to its name began in 2013 with an effort to point out all the American high schools that use the same name.
The P.R. effort by the Washington NFL franchise to bolster its position returned to that topic on Tuesday night, with team P.R. director Tony Wyllie pointing out to PFT that a school board in Wellpinit, Washington decided last week to keep the same name for its local high school team.
“Explain this Mike!!!” Wyllie said via email with a link to the story.
Here’s the explanation — for as long as the Washington NFL franchise continues to cling to that name amid a debate that has become sufficiently strong to cause even the current face of the franchise, a year after decrying the “tyranny of political correctness” on Twitter to refuse to say that there’s no problem at all with the name, other groups that have used the same name will feel empowered to continue doing so as well.
In many cases, the NFL sets the example and the trends for college and high school programs. While plenty of college and high school programs have abandoned the name and others similar to it without change from the NFL franchise, the all-caps-never-over-my-dead-body stance from owner Daniel Snyder will make it easier for those who want to keep the name elsewhere to do so.
Regardless of how the issue shakes out in any community where the name was applied decades ago to a local sports team, the debate will remain for the Washington NFL team until the name changes. And we welcome Wyllie or anyone else to let us know if/when a sports team that has never before used that name suddenly adopts it.
That won’t be happening. Indeed, if that name never had been used at the NFL level, there’s no way an expansion franchise would be allowed to use it in 2014. Which continues to be the most logical argument for changing it.