Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Should The Washington Redskins Change Their Name?!?

I'm a "bandwagon Redskins fan", which is a nice way of saying "I only care if they're having a .500 or better season which won't ever happen again as long as Robert Griffin III only has one good knee". Seriously, football is just a break between the NBA offseason and an annual respite from baseball.

That said, I'm quite neutral when it comes to the "change it/don't change it" debate over the team's name. The drive to change the name really gained public consciousness a couple of season ago when RGIII took the league by storm, but reality is people here in the DC area has waged that discussion for decades, before it was a trendy liberal pet issue.

Forgive me if I find the sudden self-righteousness of guys like Chris Hayes who probably don't even watch football (either) a bit self-serving. I mean, local broadcasters like Marc Gray have been calling them "The Washington Football Team" since the mid 90's. Kick rocks, Peter King. If the team had gone 3-13 instead of winning the division that year, none of these folks would care.

Anyways, the team's trademarking of the phrase "Washington Redskins" has waged in court for as long as I can remember, and a development this morning has anti-Skins advocates claiming what will surely be a short-lived victory.
Unprecedented pressure on the Washington NFL team to change its name reached a crescendo today when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six federal trademark registrations owned by the team, ruling that the term "Redskins" was disparaging to "a substantial composite" of American Indians when the marks were granted between 1967 and 1990.

The 2-1 decision by the board does not mean the Washington team must stop using the name but gives opponents of the name another opening to hammer home their contention that the term is a despicable racial slur. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor that "the handwriting is on the wall" and the team's name will change some day.

The team's attorneys said the team will appeal. The team prevailed on appeal in an earlier iteration of the case.

The Washington team retains its federal trademark rights pending appeal. And even if the club loses on appeal, it can continue to use the name, as it has for more than 80 years. But without federal trademark protection, others could potentially use the team's name and logos to sell merchandise with impunity, although owners of unregistered marks can still try to protect them through state statutes or common law. The team has two months to file the appeal.
So yeah, about that appeal. Skins owner Daniel Snyder will most certainly lawyer up and probably win the rights back, something that happened about a decade ago. This means very little in the grand scheme of things. Congress cannot pressure a private entity to rebrand/rename itself, nor can fans, especially when said team makes money hand over fist even while enduring 2-14 seasons. Skins fans are an odd bunch like that. I've lived here for 19 years and I still don't understand the unrequited love for this bungling franchise.

The oddest thing here is that Snyder (a guy who once essentially charged fans to walk to his stadium!) is all about money and is missing the forest for the trees. He could simply change the team's name to the "Washington Pigskins", forcing fans to spend millions of dollars on new merchandise and making those offended by the team's name happy in one fell swoop. "Pigskin" is a football term that offends nobody, ties nicely to the team's 1980's "Hogs", and probably allows them to make only minor modifications to their uniform (replace the Indian on the helmet with a "W") while keeping their burgundy and gold color scheme.

It's an idea that makes so much sense I should prolly trademark it myself.

Seriously, Mr. Snyder. Just change the damn name already.[1]

BTW, this anti-Redskins ad... just awesome!

Question: Should the Reskins change their name or do these whiny Native Americans need to be concerned with far more pressing issues on The Rez?!?

[1] Yes, I realize it's a little weird for me to advocate the Skins changing their name to something more PC while dreaming about my beloved Wizards reverting to the Washington Bullets. #WalkingContradiction

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