Why the Washington Redskins’ new team name needs to replace the ‘Red,’ too

Why the Washington Redskins’ new team name needs to replace the ‘Red,’ too

When Washington’s NFL team announces its new name to replace “Redskins,” it doesn’t sound like it will get rid of the “Red.”

“Redwolves” has emerged as the heavy odds-on favorite, with the Redtails a close second. The Redhawks are also strongly in the mix behind the “Warriors.”

Although “Red” with something other than a racial slur against Native Americans seems like a good alternative, it’s not. First, the color part of the name was integral to making “Redskins” offensive. Second, staying with “Red” is a lazy, quick way to change the logo, helmets, uniforms and gear that will no doubt generate immediate huge merchandise revenue right in time for the 2020 NFL season.

Let’s first knock down the bird and beast alternatives, shall we?

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Miami University in Ohio, of the MAC, went through its change from “Redskins” 23 years ago. The stylized RedHawks were the ultimate choice. Copying that for a professional franchise, even with the lower-case “H,” is mailing it in.

Then there’s “Redwolves,” already in play in two-word form for the sports teams of Arkansas State and the minor league soccer club based in Chattanooga, Tenn. Given that Arkansas State changed to that from the “Indians,” that’s also an unoriginal move. Plus, Red Wolf recalls a red lager beer that wasn’t good and didn’t sell well, also opening up bad logo possibilities.

Yes, “Redtails” is different, because it would come off as a nice tribute to the Red Tails, the African-American and Caribbean fighter and bomber pilots who fought for America during World War II, officially known as The Tuskegee Airmen. That however, seems like more of a forced attempt to honor their contributions vs. a genuine one. It’s definitely better than ending with hawks or wolves, but it’s hard to ignore the “Red” still staying in place.

Everyone knows that money (the threat of losing plenty) is what finally motivated owner Daniel Snyder to reverse his once-hard stance on never changing the “Redskins” name. Washington isn’t an expansion team; it is a highly popular franchise with a national following. That means it should fully embrace the rebrand vs. doing it out of obligation — and that means not settling for the convenient adjustment with “Red.”

For how long “Redskins” has made many uncomfortable, it’s OK for Washington to now face some inconvenience. Keeping “Red” is a way to get out of a true, somewhat radical change. It’s understandable that the franchise wants to keep the burgundy and gold colors out of more positive tradition, and that can happen without a “Red” name.

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Unfortunately, there have been a lot of non-“Red” duds thrown out there: Generals, Presidents, Lincolns, Jeffersons and Roosevelts can all be thrown out. Monuments and Memorials just sound dour and highly unintimidating or fun for a football team.

“Americans” makes more sense because it complements MLB’s Nationals and the NHL’s Capitals well, but given the current climate of our country, there are now complications with that name, even when positioned as the non-slur alternative to “Redskins.”

Washington going to “Warriors” would give Golden State’s NBA team company in professional sports. With Marquette University going from “Warriors” to “Golden Eagles” 26 years ago, that’s less derivative and a less socially complicated version of “Americans” for Washington. Although not exciting, given the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs aren’t changing their name in the same league, Warriors serves as a strong name that carries pride and also can easily be separated from Native American ties.

The timing isn’t good for Washington’s NFL team, because there’s only about a month and a half left to not be nameless for the 2020 season. That would suggest something simple to replace “Redskins,” regardless of the legal hurdles regarding trademarks.

But when Washington gets to anything “Red,” it should see a stop sign and think again.

Published at Wed, 15 Jul 2020 16:45:31 +0000

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