Washington coach Ron Rivera believes that now isn’t the time to discuss whether the team’s name should change. Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy believes that time already has come and gone; Dungy tells William C. Rhoden of ESPN.com’s The Undefeated that Dungy already has stopped using the name on the air.
“It’s not hard to change the name,” Dungy told Rhoden. “When I’m on the air, I try to just refer to them as Washington. I think it’s appropriate. If the team doesn’t want to change, the least I can do is try not to use it.”
Appearing on 670 The Score in Chicago earlier this week, Rivera defended the name in part by saying that the name was always the name when he was growing up, and it’s simply what the name is and has been for decades.
Dungy, who is older than Rivera and has been in and around football longer than him, isn’t swayed by that thinking.
“You can say, ‘This has been a historic name and we’ve used it for this team for X number of years, but in this day and age, it’s offensive to some people, so we’re going to change it,'” Dungy told Rhoden. “I don’t think that’s hard.”
It’s not hard. Especially not now. Beyond being the right thing to do in this moment of racial reckoning and awakening, a new name could energize the team and attract new fans. To the extent that some fans would disavow the franchise if it dares to abandon a dictionary-defined slur as its primary method of identification, are those really fans that any franchise should want?