In this moment, Washington’s nickname must change

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In Richmond, Virginia, protesters recently toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus. The assault on the Columbus statue happened as part of the broader reexamination of systemic racism engrained in the very soul of the New World, from the moment Europeans first arrived.

Racism is racism, regardless of the specific race whose members find themselves on the wrong side of unequal treatment. As argued last week, a true commitment by the NFL to combat systemic racism must include an effort to eradicate all evidence of it, including the most obvious evidence of it in all of pro sports: One of the NFL’s 32 franchises is a contemptuous term used to refer to a Native American Indian.

There has been little traction, yet, for using this moment as the catalyst for making that specific change. There should be. NASCAR has used this moment to rid itself of a flag that symbolizes a violent insurrection against America aimed at preserving slavery. The musical group Lady Antebellum has used this moment to change its name to Lady A, given the association of the word “antebellum” with slavery — even though most weren’t even making that connection or demanding that change.

Although the current movement happened after the murder of a black man by police in Minneapolis, our national awakening to decades of passive tolerance of systemic racism should spark an eradication of any and all forms of racism inherent to our society. That’s why the Columbus statue in Richmond is gone. And that’s why the name of the team that has held training camp in recent years in Richmond also should be gone.

Washington coach Ron Rivera, one of four minority coaches in the NFL, conducted a videoconference with reporters on Wednesday. Rivera expressed support for the protests regarding inequality experienced by black Americans, along with support for players who may choose to peacefully protest during the anthem.

“I have been tasked with leading this entire organization and I have always believed in the mantra that actions speak louder than words,” Rivera said.

At this time in history, two actions from the NFL would scream louder than anything else the league could say or do: (1) repair Colin Kaepernick; and (2) change the Washington name.

Somewhat surprisingly, none of the reporters on the videoconference asked the simple, straightforward question of whether Rivera believes the team’s name should change. That possibly happened because of the common dynamic that happens during press conferences, when an uncomfortable topic becomes the elephant in the room and everyone waits for someone else to be the one to point it out. Sometimes, the uncomfortable topic is never mentioned.

It needs to be. Rivera needs to be asked for his thoughts on the team’s name. Does he agree that it is a dictionary-defined slur? If not, why not? If so, what will be done to address it? Does he, as the man “tasked with leading the entire organization” have the ability and the willingness to tell owner Daniel Snyder not what should happen, but what will happen?

For now, the push for equal justice will understandably focus on the chronic mistreatment of black Americans. At some point, the movement must shift its focus to the chronic mistreatment of Native Americans, if the goal is (as it should be) to end all forms of racism in America, as to all races. Washington and the NFL can lead from ahead, and not from behind, by changing the name before the pressure to do so inevitably mounts to a point where it won’t be a topic that is nonchalantly omitted from a press conference with the head coach.

43 responses to “In this moment, Washington’s nickname must change

  1. This is insane. While they’re at it, let’s get rid of the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Eskimos, Florida State Seminoles, Atlanta Braves, and Kansas City Chiefs. It’s all so offensive and unprogressive, right? We all know who’s going to win in November.

  2. Lets force name changes and place unusable players onto teams that dont want him.

    The new NFL

  3. You want to eliminate the term “Redskins” because it is offensive to some people. When players kneel during the national anthem, it is offensive to some veterans and nearly half of the people in the United States. Where is your article on why players shouldn’t kneel because it’s offending people? There shouldn’t be a double standard.

  4. Next up, people will start becoming offended by the use of the name “Patriots” because of this, that, or whatever. You know it’s coming… it’s not if, but when

  5. Kap opted out of his contract leaving money on the table. His choice. Kap rejected a trade to Denver because Elway wanted him to take a pay cut. His choice. Turned down a chance to go to Seattle. His choice. His girlfriend ruined a possible chance in Baltimore. His choice.

    It’s now three and a half years since he was benched for Blake Bortles. He needs to move on and repair himself. He is not owed anything.

  6. None of the other team nicknames mentioned is offensive. Redskins is. It’s only a matter of time. The NFL has the power to rename the team. If Little Danny Boy Snyder doesn’t like it, he can sell the team.

  7. Time for Goddell to grow a couple. I’ve never seen a “leader” put his head in the sand more than him.

  8. Let’s try to keep focused on one thing. When we figure out step one, then let’s go to step 2. If you try to skip a step, you’ll end up falling down and step one will never be reached.

  9. In this moment, the Washington’s Redskins OWNER, Dan Snyder, must change.
    Sell the team Dan.
    Hopefully a new owner can restore the team to respectability.

  10. Future of the NFL: the Kansas City Red has to find a way to score against the powerful defense of the Minnesota Purple. Surely Head Coach/owner Kaepernick of the SF Gold is watching this match closely for a blueprint on how to stop this team

  11. I agree. The time has come in humanity history to divorce with our past monsters we named things after, built statues for, etc. Also naming a team with a racial slur. Wipe it all out and let it rest in history books.

    The people who invented the Redskin word saw them as lesser humans they could do whatever to. Columbus tried to commit genocide every place he set foot.

    Its time we stop celebrating these ruthless monsters.

  12. cneuey says:
    June 11, 2020 at 5:07 pm
    You want to eliminate the term “Redskins” because it is offensive to some people. When players kneel during the national anthem, it is offensive to some veterans and nearly half of the people in the United States. Where is your article on why players shouldn’t kneel because it’s offending people? There shouldn’t be a double standard.

    —————————

    That is perhaps the greatest post I’ve ever read here. Well done sir!

  13. Any team name which refers to the color of skin of a race of people is wrong. How is there even a debate? The fact that so many support keeping the name shows that racism is alive and well.

  14. The time should have been long ago. The argument that it is somehow honouring or respecting Native Americans is disingenuous at best, and outright racist, most likely. Marshall was famously the NFL’s most racist owner, and was forced to integrate the team by the Kennedy administration. Change the damn name.

  15. I’m not even a Redskins fan but NO they should never change it. All this stuff has to stop somewhere.

  16. I feel like a subtle change to the Redbirds would work well. You wouldn’t have alter too many things. Just tweak the logo slightly. The HTTR acronym would still work. Seems like a no brainer.

  17. The term is offensive. The once proud franchise is now a running joke.
    Perhaps the Washington football team could benefit from a fresh start.
    That is all.

  18. Cmon man.leave the name the way it is. Some people will always complain .Give them a foot and then they will take a mile.

  19. This will keep being an issue but simply put, the team will stay being called the Washington Redskins. They won the issue in court. They won the issue with their fans. They have an owner who will not change the name nor sale the team. They have a fan base who will not leave the team due to the name. People will keep having an opinion on this issue, but legally you can’t make the owner change the name. The owners of the other teams will not force the issue and the fans will keep going to the games and purchasing merchandise. Mike is not going to change the name. The Washington Redskins are here to stay!

  20. The entire subject is offensive. Offensive to many segments of the population for various personal reasons.
    My concern though is the NFL and it’s new stance on protests,… they are driving away a segment of fans. And that might rear it’s ugly head when the next TV contracts come due for negotiations. Numbers don’t lie. TV ratings drives the new contracts.

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