Though the Washington Redskins exited early in this year’s playoffs, fans are happy in that the future of the franchise is looking good. This means fans believe going to the playoffs this season wasn’t a fluke and they can expect great things from this football team. Yet, there are many that are not happy with the team, more specifically their name. In fact, it seems to be a possible game changer subject if the team hopes to move from FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, to a stadium inside the District of Columbia. This “suggestion” is not coming from the fans but from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who feels very strongly about this.
Though many have considered the NFL team’s name a slur for years, The Washington Post reports that the team and its owners, which includes current boss Dan Snyder, have resisted changing the name. Despite this, Gray seems adamant in his stance of changing their name if they want to come back to the city.
He says that, “there’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a discussion about that, and of course the team is going to have to work with us around that issue.” If complying with Gray’s request, the football team would not be the first D.C. team and its fans would be forced to cheer for a new team. NBA’s Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards back in 1997 during increasing gun violence in the nation’s capital. Gray added that elsewhere other teams have also gotten rid of offensive names and mascots.
The football team moved from the District and ended up in Landover, Md. in 1997 but now is trying to move back within the city limits. The mayor brought up the fact that the federal government, not the District of Columbia, controls the land where RFK Stadium sits as well as where any replacement football stadium would likely be built.
Though the mayor said that the Redskins name would not automatically break any deal, the change in name should be discussed. He told the Washington Post that, “It has become a lightning rod, and I would be love to be able to sit down with the team … and see if a change should be made. There’s a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing.”
During a news conference, Gray said, “I think that if they get serious with the team coming back to Washington, there’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a discussion about that.” The lack of disgust for the name is not just limited to the mayor. Because of perceived insults to Native Americans, some newspapers, including one in D.C., won’t print the team’s nickname.
The D.C.’s alternative newspaper, the Washington City Paper, announced in October that it would no longer print the team’s official name. The publication said that the name was a “pejorative term for Native Americans.” The City Paper had an online reader poll and decided afterwards to refer to the team as the Washington Pigskins. Despite this, Snyder remains unswayed.
The dispute over the team’s name has been going on for years and in 1992, a group of Native Americans decided to file a disparagement lawsuit against the team. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Times reported that the lawsuit was dismissed in 2009 when the Supreme Court said it would not hear the case.
Redskins To Drop Offensive Name
The Redskins’ resurgence has District politicos once again talking about what it would take to relocate the team back inside the city limits. But Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) today suggested there would have to be a controversial prerequisite to any stadium deal: a name change, or at least discussion of one.