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Since the 1990’s, the Washington Redskins have been embroiled in the same controversy: their brand. Their name was proposed by former owner George Marshall in the 1930’s and the logo by Walter Wetzel, a former Blackfeet chairman and past President of the National Congress of Indians.
However, many claim that it’s usage is a harmful stereotype.
Companies like PepsiCo, Nike and FedEx are being challenged to severe ties with Washington over the team name. Even the city of Washington D.C. is threatening to not allow owner Dan Snyder to build a new stadium if the name isn’t changed. Seemingly backed into a corner, Washington may need to drop the team name sooner rather than later. If that’s the case, what are some viable options?
The point of this article isn’t calling for change, as that’s something the NFL and the team owners must do on their own merits. Simply put, we’ll be looking at potentially changing the brand as speculation. Some changes may be more drastic than others but one things for sure: the on field history and accomplishments will remain the same.
Let’s take a look:
Probably the most effortless change that the team can make, changing the team name to the Skins would distance themselves from the Native American ties. Fans have been calling them the Skins for short for years.
It’s similar to New York Knicks fans calling them the Knicks rather than their full name, the Knickerbockers for years before it was ultimately shortened. You literally would only have to design a new logo, you can even keep the color scheme.
The downside to this however, is still the name itself. Calling them the Skins would still project their past name to those outside of their fan base. In this modern society, it’s completely possible that just dropping the “red” in “Redskins” may not be enough. If that’s the case, they’re going to probably need a new identity.
Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Washington Redskins flourished under head coach Joe Gibbs. Lead by their stout offensive line, dubbed “The Hogs,” the team would go onto win three Super Bowls. Why not bring it back?
Because of its association with the team, the colors can stay. There’s logos already tied to outside organizations that can be utilized, and even websites that cover the team such as “Hogs Heaven” could bring it back. It also serves as a loving tribute to the creator of “The Hogs:” offensive line coach Joe Bugel, who passed away earlier this year.
This is lifted out of the Blitz the League series, however this would fit well. One of the most well known alternative logos for the team is the yellow R in a red circle with feathers. Why not switch to that?
While the ties to Native American culture are still there, Chief Red Hawk is a retired clan chief for the American Cherokee Confederacy of Georgia, as well as a member of the consultant pool at Georgetown University’s National Center for Cultural Competence. Redskins are viewed as a derogatory name for Native Americans while Red Hawk is seen as a tribute to a well known Native American. Worst case, they could always just use a red bird.
The current hashtag for Washington is #HTTR which is short for Hail To The Redskins. If the Redskins’ name had to go and they wanted to keep a similar hashtag, there’s two popular options: the Chiefs (already in use) and the Kings.
While it would take a lot of work to rebrand it, there’s a couple of other issues: one being that every sports league except baseball would have a team called the Kings. The other issue is the fact that having a king in Washington would be odd since the country replaced a king with a president as a result of the Revolutionary War.
The Washington Senators, the Washington Nationals, the Washington Capitols, D.C. United… do you notice a pattern? Most of the professional sports teams in the Washington D.C. share a name with something associated with the symbolism of the city. So why not the Federals?
The Federals, in addition to being a reference to the federal government, were also a team from the United States Football League. To revive it would give them the opportunity to redeem the name following two terrible seasons and low attendance (which prompted their move to Orlando). The logo could be doctored to match the colors, or you could bring it back completely with the green, black and white scheme.
It’s more than likely that they’d choose a name not listed here if they actually do change. However, a little creativity doesn’t hurt. Which team name would you like to see?