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Shirts and ’Skins

October 20, 2009 - Rob Weaver
This item crossed the news wire (OK, the news satellite) recently:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of American Indians who find the Washington Redskins’ name offensive wants the Supreme Court to take up the matter.
The group on Monday asked the justices to review a lower court decision that favored the NFL team on a legal technicality.
Seven Native Americans have been working through the court system since 1992 to have the Redskins trademarks declared invalid. A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office panel ruled in their favor in 1999. But they’ve been handed a series of defeats from judges who ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their suit in the first place.
A lawyer for the group says he’d like to see the highest court decide whether the Redskins’ name defames Native Americans.

Do we need to make a federal case out of this? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the name is offensive?

I understand there are years of tradition behind the team name. The Boston Braves were renamed the Boston Redskins in 1932, and the nickname stayed with the team when it moved to Washington in 1937. The players, ownership and fans might have become attached to the name over the past 77 years.

If so, I have a solution: Don’t change the name, change the logo. Replace the American Indian head on the side of the helmet with .... a peanut. I know, I know, it’s not very fierce — unless you have a specific allergy — so here's another option: In a nod to gambling (why do you think the NFL requires injury reports?), the logo could be a face card. I’d suggest a king.

On the other hand, because change seems so popular in our nation’s capital right now, maybe it is time for a complete makeover. After all, it certainly didn’t hurt the Browns, who won the Super Bowl five years after moving to Baltimore and changing their name to the Ravens.

I wouldn’t recommend truncating the name to just the Reds, which would have Cold War connotations for those of us over a certain age. Considering the record federal budget deficit and national debt, I would propose another potential team name:

The Washington Red Inks.


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