Washington’s football team may at long last get a new name
It looks as if the Washington Redskins are going to change their name. Finally.
Last week, the team announced that it will conduct a “thorough review” of the name. Most observers think this will lead to the team changing it.
I have written several times, first in 2005, that the team should change its name. The term “Redskin,” after all, is a hurtful name for Native Americans. As any kid knows, it’s not nice to call people mean names.
Daniel Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999, opposed changing the name. He claims the name honors Native Americans. In 2013, he said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use all caps.”
The world, however, has changed. Recent events have made people more sensitive about symbols of racism, such as statues honoring Confederate generals who fought against the United States in the Civil War (1861 to 1865) to preserve slavery in their states.
And sensitive to professional sports team names that are thoughtless labels for a group of people.
So, if fans in Washington will soon be rooting for a football team with a new name, what will it be?
I looked at the names for all 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL). Fourteen teams have animal names, such as Bears, Lions or Dolphins. Five of the animal names are bird names, such as Ravens or Eagles.
Seventeen more teams have names that describe a kind of person, such as Patriots, Cowboys or Packers.
My research also revealed that NFL teams do not change their names often. I found only a few times when a team changed its name after it settled in a city.
One of the original 14 NFL teams in 1920 was called the Decatur (Illinois) Staleys. They were named after the sponsor of the team, the Staley starch company. The team moved to Chicago in 1921 and played one season as the Chicago Staleys. They changed their name to the Bears in 1922.
The Pittsburgh team started in 1933 as the Pirates. In 1940, the owner wanted a fresh start for the team, which hadn’t had a winning season. They became the Steelers. The New York Jets were first called the New York Titans. They changed their name before the 1963 season because their owner thought “Jets” sounded more modern.
The Dallas team was almost called the “Steers” or the “Rangers” before it started playing as the Cowboys in 1960.
We may get a say in naming the Washington team. I found that 11 NFL teams conducted votes among their fans before they selected the team name.
I think Redhawks would be a cool name. It’s shorthand for a red-tailed hawk, a bird found in nearly all parts of North America.
But change the name. Anything is better than Redskins.