Prefatory note: It is the contention of this fanpost that within a short period of time, perhaps two years, Dan Snyder will finally be compelled to change the name of his professional football team. Whether and to what degree the name "Redskins" is offensive, and if it is offensive whether that is sufficient reason to push for renaming the team, are in essence political questions. So in order to respect the site prohibition against politics (which is surpassingly wise) let's please avoid discussion of whether or not Snyder SHOULD change the name. If you disagree with this post, let it be merely because you think the "Redskins" name will persist, not whether it SHOULD or not.
"Dammit!" an embittered Richard Nixon famously cried to his aides. "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the country." The Thirty-Seventh President had been waging a desperate public relations battle for some time (either over the conflict in Vietnam or the relative merits of "A Song for You" (1972), The Carpenters' fourth studio album-- I forget which) and felt the trust of the American people slipping away. He knew that once the celebrated newsman Cronkite turned against him, his position was lost.
"My jowls are going to hang even lower now."
(Nixon, by the way, was one heck of a football fan.)
Why do I bring this up? In the past month, several prominent national sportswriters (ESPN's Bill Simmons and USA Today’s Christine Brennan are two) have drawn a line in the sand: they will no longer use the term "Redskins" when they write about the NFL team from Washington, D.C. Several news organizations have made similar pledges, among them Slate magazine. Per that article in Slate, even the Mayor of Washington, D.C. goes out of his way not to use the term.
Now, this issue has come up before (once a decade or so) but each time the controversy has blown over with the "Redskins" name emerging unscathed. Redskins owner Dan Snyder is betting the same will happen this time. "You can have the 'Redskins' name," he recently boasted, "when you pry it from my cold, micromanaging hands." (Quote slightly paraphrased.)
But as I read the tea leaves, the controversy isn't going to blow over this time. I'm convinced that public opinion has tipped. He may not like it, and he may not know it yet, but Snyder is going to have to change the name of his team, I think sooner rather than later. And the bellwether for this is the Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, who made a bit of a show a couple weeks ago of joining the boycott.
Peter King is not, it must be said, a man possessed of the gravitas that Walter Cronkite had. (He has other failings too: as a football writer, he wouldn't even be qualified to join the Field Gulls staff; a fact that only rankles because the latter are basically uncompensated while King's weekly scrawlings earn him millions of dollars per year.) But one thing Peter King sure can do is stick a moistened finger in the air and tell which way the wind is blowing.
"I'm gonna lick a digit now. You probably want to look away."
Peter King speaks for Middle America. If Dan Snyder has lost Peter King, he has lost the football-watching country. I'm circling March 20, 2015 on my calendar: by that date if not before, Washington will no longer be called the Redskins.
So what should they be called? The obvious solution is to keep the logo and pick a specific local Indian tribe to honor. Personally, I'm partial to the Powhatans. (And not, I assure you, because their most famous Chief was named "Wahunsonacock".) But there are probably other tribal names equally as good, or even better. Suggestions welcome in the comments.
"You heard me say "never" in ALL CAPS, right? RIGHT??"