Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Redskins name change

Redskins name change, Well, it’s spring, and the NFL Draft has just ended, so that means it’s time to renew the debate over the Washington Redskins nickname. We don’t think that anyone can really argue that the name Redskins isn’t a clunky, unfortunate relic of our non-PC past — like Augusta National, or Donald Trump. But times change — even Augusta has now admitted a woman member — and perhaps the Redskins organization will change with them.

Washington D.C. Council member David Grosso hopes so. Grosso is on the warpath currently on a mission to get the name changed. Out: Redskins. In: Redtails?

An independent elected last year, Grosso said he plans to pursue his non-binding resolution because the current name is “a derogatory, racist name.”

“It’s been a long time that we’ve had this name associated with Washington, and I think its time we take a stand and change it,” Grosso said.
Grosso writes in his resolution that the name should be changed to the Washington Redtails, honoring the Tuskegee Airmen — fighter pilots who broke the color barrier for aviators in World War II. Reaction has been mixed:

5:53 PM PDT
Someone needs to explain to the D.C. City Council that their sphere of (self)-importance ends at Southern, Eastern and Western Avenues.

5:43 PM PDT
Redtails? I could just imagine the logo and mascot.

5:35 PM PDT
I’ll vote for Rednecks.

Don’t expect a name change anytime soon — at least without a lot more push than a nonbinding resolution by the D.C. Council. This name is entrenched, and the only way you’re going to dislodge it is if you make it very uncomfortable, or unprofitable, for Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen to keep it. Fun fact: the Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate, only signing a black player in 1962 when the Kennedy administration ordered them to do so or be kicked out of their home stadium.

Here’s a Redskins timeline:

1932: Team is born as the Boston Braves, and plays in Braves Field, Boston, MA.

1933: Team moves to Fenway Park, changing name to Boston Redskins.

1937: Move to Washington D.C., becoming the Washington Redskins. They win the NFL East for the second year in a row and the NFL Championship Game vs. the Chicago Bears.

1938: The wife of owner George Preston Marshall writes the Redskins’ fight song. WTOP: The song originally contained racial epithets. For instance, the second stanza suggested the team “scalp” their opponents.

1940: Redskins play the Bears again for the NFL title — this time losing 73-0. That’s still the most lopsided loss in NFL history.

1940: Earlier that season, team captain Turk Edwards injured himself during the coin toss prior to a game against the NY Giants. He was lost for the season.

1950: Redskins become first NFL team to televise all of their games.

1961: Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall orders Redskins owner George Preston Marshall to integrate his team — the Redskins being the only NFL squad without a black player. (The team played in D.C. Stadium, which was on land overseen by the Dept. of the Interior). It is the first time the federal government attempts to desegregate a professional sports team.

1962: Running back Bobby Mitchell, guard John Nisby and fullback Ron Hatcher are signed — the Redskins’ first black players. Hatcher, from Michigan State, is the first black player drafted by the Redskins.

1992: Native American group sues the league to remove the Redskins name, citing statutes preventing registration of disparaging terms.

1999: The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rule in favor of the petition and cancel the trademarks. Decision is appealed.

2002: Poll commissioned by Sports Illustrated finds that 75 percent of Native Americans surveyed have no objection to the Redskins name.

2005: D.C. Court of Appeals reverse the trademark cancellation. U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Native American group’s appeal.

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