The Name Game

Out of Left Field

The professional football team that plays in Washington DC can’t seem to catch a break. It’s to the point where even some talking heads and analysts won’t even refer to them by the name that has been in place since the team’s inception 81 years ago. Not only is the team itself in disarray, but it is also in danger of losing its identity in the community.

Religious leaders locally and nationally have spoken out against what they feel is a derogatory and racist depiction of the Native American people.  There are protests each Sunday outside Fed Ex field by those demanding change. There are also those, including myself, who in no way intend to disrespect, yet understand why it is seen as offensive. We view the name as a tough fighting warrior. Just like the words in the team fight song “braves on the warpath...”  In fact, growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s, I don’t remember ever hearing about or thinking the team name was offensive. I don’t remember it being an issue when the Joe Gibbs regime won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 1983, or when the team won just four games in 1993. I don’t remember it being a problem when the team experienced a rebirth 10 years later with the return of Joe Gibbs.  But now in 2013, coupled with a dysfunctional performance on the field as well as in the front office, the teams’ logo is under unprecedented scrutiny to conform to the sensitivities of today’s world.

Name change for our sport’s teams is nothing new here in DC. Its basketball team has gone from being called the popular Bullets to the silly Wizards. Its baseball team went from the Senators (who left town twice), to the Nationals. Just a few years ago the Wizards changed their uniform to a similar red, white and blue scheme that the Bullets wore for many years, in an attempt to evoke that teams’ popularity. Now it’s appearing more and more likely that the football team is set to adopt yet another unfamiliar name.

As the pressure continues to grow for owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of his team, so does the anxiety for those who bleed burgundy and gold throughout the year. I can’t imagine calling them anything other than what I’ve always called them.

So if the name is to change, what can it be called that will appease the faithful fans who love their football team? Capitol Hill resident DJ Seidman suggests the “Redskin Potatoes.” He says it works because you don’t have to change the team fight song or nickname.

Among the more popular nicknames gaining momentum is “Bravehearts.” Other suggested names are the “Generals” and “Renegades” but the one I like the most is simply “Skins.” You do away with the ‘Red’ and Native American theme all together. The new logo could be a football with the name ‘Skins’ implying pig skin—what a football is made of. So many locals and diehard fans already refer to the team as the “Skins” that this would be an easy transition to make.

Whatever it is to happen, change is likely coming to Washington…but who didn’t know that already.

If you have a good idea for the new name, send it to me at and we’ll post some of the most interesting ideas online.

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