Washington alumni chime in on coming name change

Getty Images

When Washington announced on Friday that a “thorough review” of the team’s name would occur, owner Daniel Snyder listed “alumni” as one of the groups that would be consulted.

Some alumni accept that change is inevitable. Some don’t like it. Some aren’t saying jack squat.

Tucked near the bottom of an article from Matthew Paras of the Washington Times is a telling tidbit regarding two of the most popular Washington players of the last 40 years: Joe Theismann declined comment, and the team declined to make Doug Williams available for comment.

Other players had plenty to say, including former cornerback Fred Smoot {pictured), who has known that this day was coming for nearly two decades. As a rookie in 2001, he noticed protesters outside FedEx Field. Teammate Champ Bailey told Smoot that Native Americans were protesting the name, because they find it offensive.

“I realized one day, we’re going to have to face this giant,” Smoot told the Times.

Face it they are, with years of denial suddenly replaced by an urgency that borders on the impractical. That’s the price, however, of taking an all-caps-never approach to the potential abandonment of a slur.

Former Washington running back Brian Mitchell is trying not to get too caught up in the name applied to the team.

“I played for the organization,” Mitchell said, “I played particularly for the fans, I played for my family, I played for my pride. I don’t know if I necessarily played for a name, you get what I’m saying? . . . Do you cheer for a name or do you cheer for the players?”

Mitchell added that, in his view, it would be “ridiculous” for fans to ditch the team simply because the team changes its name. The more likely reality, frankly, is that many fans will refuse to accept a new name, clinging to the old name and logo for as long as they can.

How long could that last? Think about that the next time you see someone flying a Confederate flag from the back of a pickup truck.

Other former players would prefer to keep the name. Offensive lineman Mark May believes that name shouldn’t change in response to a “mob mentality” that’s pushing the team to do it. May told the Times he’ll get behind a new name but that he’s in a “difficult position.”

Former kicker Mark Moseley, who somehow became the league MVP in the strike-shortened season of 1982, told the Times that he believes “most” former players would prefer to keep the name as it is, and that a change would “take away” from the efforts and achievements of players like Darrell Green and Art Monk.

Regardless, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the name will go. Smoot knew it was going 19 years ago. In many respects, it’s amazing it’s taken so long for the reckoning to arrive.

40 responses to “Washington alumni chime in on coming name change

  1. It’s too easy if it has to change…. Washington Hogs. Honor your team culture and legacy. People still go to games dressed as Hogs. Change it and be done.

  2. Honest question, was there this much commotion when the Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards in 97? I was a teenager at the time, but I just don’t remember it being a big deal. Obviously, the Bullets/Wizards weren’t as storied of a franchise, so maybe that’s the reason?

  3. My suggestions: TheisMEN, Bonebreakers, Pretzels, DC Derps, or something boring like Comets.

  4. Remember when the Washington Bullets switched to the Wizards? No big deal then either. Plus teams that relocate do it all the time.
    I am totally against our culture being overreactive and butthurt on a lot of things, but there really isn’t a way to look at the current team name and believe it isn’t offensive. Long overdue change IMHO.

  5. Oilers players said the EXACT same thing Mark Mosely said about being afraid that changing the name would diminish the accomplishments of past players. It didn’t and it hasn’t.

    Sooooo..next.

    #GoRedtails

  6. Weird, I’ve been to Fedex field at least 100 times since it opened. Used to work there. I never once saw any protesters at the stadium. I did however see about 82,000 screaming Redskin fans on game days. Although that number is probably closer to 40,000 in recent years.

  7. It’s an embarrassing, racist nickname that shouldn’t have survived into the 2020s. The organization should stop whining about it and accept this needed change gracefully.

    They should do what the Titans did – take suggestions from the fans and see if anything good comes up.

    Snyder doesn’t have to say he likes it or agrees with it, but it’s happening. And it’s not a “mob mentality”, it’s part of this moment in time: America being forced to deal with its racism. Stomp your feet and huff all you want, but this is the reality of the moment, and it can’t be ignored or denied any longer.

  8. So, are they going to remove the name from every mention in the HoF? Might as well go all the way with this idiocy. They better go into every players home that has a game ball that says Redskins and take that too. You know, because it “feels” right.

  9. Sometimes stupidity is so clear it is blinding I use to tell my students don’t walk around with blinders on because you will miss all that is around you

  10. The Washington Veterans. Remove any controversy and go with something that honors service men and women – of all races, religions, skin colors. D.C. is the perfect place to do so. Rebrand, come up with a third alternate camo-like uniform. They would own the month of November with the NFL’s Salute to service, and could create a section of the stadium reserved to seat past-present service members who come to the game in uniform like they do at service academy games. Become the real America’s team. Make a change that does some good and everybody wins. Go Vets!

  11. My high school dropped its Native mascot in the mid 90s, and I doubt anyone has cared for twenty years or more.

    Remember when stadiums got sponsors and people insisted on using the old name? Other than Miami where it changed every two and a half weeks, we just kind of accept that teams play at Corporate Behemoth Stadium Presented by Mountain Dew rather than Veterans Memorial.

  12. Miami (OH) changed it’s name from The Redskins to The Redhawks years ago for the same reason. Another name idea to throw out there.

  13. If a change is coming I liked Washington Warriors but its a little too generic. What about Washington Regiment? Just like Veterans, it can be used to support our military. “Hail to our Warriors. Hail Victory. Soldiers on the Warpath, Fight for old DC ..’ Same colors. Same #httr

  14. Washington Hogs would be amazing. Tribute to one of the best offensive lines ever assembled. It wouldn’t be hard to get a cool logo, too. Google the Rockford IceHogs logo, the Blackhawks’ AHL farm team. They could do something similar for football.

  15. Regardless of who wins this upcoming election, the future of our country looks very chaotic and divided. What occurs in sports will be the least of our concerns, if this current cancel culture trend continues.

  16. All you knuckledraggers and troglodytes can eat it because the name is changing whether you like it or not. You are living in the past and your views are not reflected by young people, who don’t support your racist ideology.

  17. Shouldn’t Dallas change their offensive name too?
    Didn’t the Cowboys fight the …?

  18. I’m a big B. Mitch fan, but I believe his thinking is wrong on this.

    People cheer for the NAME, not the players. Maybe it was the reverse decades ago, but not now.

    How many Dallas Cowboys fans hated TO until he became a Cowboy? Even though he arguably ruined a potential championship team, Cowboys fans still loved the Cowboys and to this day still love TO.

    It’s the same way with politics in our country. Pretty much everyone just votes for a letter: it’s a “D” or an “R” these days. Look no further than Trump for an example. Conservative Christians convince themselves they love Trump just because he currently has an R next to his name (which, even he admitted, is why he chose to run as a Republican, because their base is the “easiest to fool.”)

    Changing the Redskins name is the same as ending the franchise all together. I’m not saying that’s a reason to keep the name, but that’s why there’s so much push back. Not everyone who wants to keep the name is a racist, Florio.

  19. Honest question, was there this much commotion when the Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards in 97? I was a teenager at the time, but I just don’t remember it being a big deal. Obviously, the Bullets/Wizards weren’t as storied of a franchise, so maybe that’s the reason?
    ——————————-
    Bullets franchise relocated from Baltimore! The name Bullets was in reference to the Shot Tower located in downtown Balt! The Shot tower Made bullets for the US revolutionary war! …just a bit of reference!

  20. “Former kicker Mark Moseley, who somehow became the league MVP in the strike-shortened season of 1982”

    TOTAL cheap shot. TOTALLY undeserved.

    Didn’t miss a kick until a meaningless attempt in the last week.

    Scored 40% of the team’s points.

    Had I don’t know how many late clutch game winners.

    Try doing a little research before dissing somebody like Mark Mosely.

  21. Washington Hogs would be amazing. Tribute to one of the best offensive lines ever assembled. It wouldn’t be hard to get a cool logo, too. Google the Rockford IceHogs logo, the Blackhawks’ AHL farm team. They could do something similar for football.

    More appropriate for a DC team would be the Washington Pork Bellies.

  22. The political climate is forcing everyone to take sides. Blame who you want for that, but I assure you the one guy who publicly makes the biggest noise opposing this is a big part of why it’s happening. Funny how that works out.

  23. gothicscorpion says:
    July 9, 2020 at 1:23 pm
    Shouldn’t Dallas change their offensive name too?
    Didn’t the Cowboys fight the …?
    ________________________________

    Yes, that’s the ONLY thing cowboys did. (eyeroll) Also FYI – White people are not the only ones to be cowboys.

  24. After all references to native American tribes is removed from US sports teams, what reminders for most Americans will exist for the courage and tenacity native Americans displayed against overwhelming forces of colonial westward expansion? IMO the best way to educate the public on native American history is to require teams using native American monikers to establish museums that explain the history of the names and tribes associated with those regions. I.e., The Washington Redskins Native American Museum located right at the stadium.

  25. joerogenstoe says:

    July 9, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    gothicscorpion says:
    July 9, 2020 at 1:23 pm
    Shouldn’t Dallas change their offensive name too?
    Didn’t the Cowboys fight the …?
    ________________________________

    Yes, that’s the ONLY thing cowboys did. (eyeroll) Also FYI – White people are not the only ones to be cowboys.

    ________________________________________________

    agreed – My comment was actually more sarcasm then literal.. I was basically throwing shade at Dallas Cowboys team (I can’t stand) . also FYI – I don’t recall specifically mentioning “whites only” cowboys…

  26. “a change would “take away” from the efforts and achievements of players like Darrell Green and Art Monk.”

    That’s ridiculous. In no way will it impact any achievement of any player.

  27. Do you know how many US sports teams have changed their names through the years? It’s literally hundreds of changes.

    If this is really a big deal to you I’d advise you to suck it up, get tougher and stop hanging on to the past.

  28. Conservatives by definition are stuck in the status quo and fear/ hate change. That’s why there’s a knee jerk negative reaction to name change or the protests. They have very little experience with racism or discrimination and are unwilling to show an ounce of understanding or empathy.

  29. Brian Grayson says:
    July 9, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    The old players don’t want their history erased. How can you blame them?
    —————————————————————————-
    Perhaps they should talk to past players from the St. Louis Rams, Los Angeles or Oakland Raiders, St. Louis football Cardinals, Houston Oilers, Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Milwaukee Braves, Seattle Pilots, Seattle Supersonics, New Orleans Jazz, Buffalo Braves, Hartford Whalers, etc., etc., etc.

  30. Think Washington Sunburns would fly?

    Washington Roughriders would be a great name, up until the point Teddy Roosevelt needs to go.

  31. I still haven’t seen where Dan said yes I will definitely change the name. Just alot of people assuming things.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.