The Wash­ing­ton G-Men?

That Nick­name Cer­tainly Would Be Less Of­fen­sive Than ‘Red­skins’ Is

The Washington Post Sunday - - Close To Home - — Mary T. Lane

Iknow that foot­ball is not in the air. I should be fol­low­ing the Na­tion­als or the Wiz­ards. But NFL mini-camps are just around the cor­ner, and some­thing has been both­er­ing me: The name Red­skins must go. I am a life­long fan. I know that many fans say: If you change the name, you’ll cut a link to our city’s sto­ried foot­ball his­tory. More to the point, they ar­gue, “Red­skins” was orig­i­nally cho­sen as a cel­e­bra­tion of Na­tive Amer­i­can strength.

But words such as “red­skin” are de­fined not by in­di­vid­ual speak­ers — not by you or me or Daniel Sny­der — but by a so­ci­ety of speak­ers. And what­ever its con­no­ta­tion in the past, in 2007, “red­skin” is a slur. Check a dic­tionary. Here is the Web­ster’s def­i­ni­tion, for ex­am­ple: Red­skin: n. Of­fen­sive. Amer­i­can In­dian. Our foot­ball his­tory might be proud, but the dic­tionary says — our so­ci­ety says — that our team name is shame­ful. We should stop be­ing stub­born. If we change the name now, with Joe Gibbs coach­ing, we’ll have con­ti­nu­ity to our foot­ball his­tory built in.

Be­sides, chang­ing a team’s name does not mean the end of a fran­chise, as Abe Pollin proved when he re­named the Bul­lets. That doesn’t mean that we have to adopt a mas­cot out of Mid­dle Earth. As much as I re­spect

K Pollin for drop­ping “Bul­lets,” he could have done bet­ter than “Wiz­ards.”

So, here are seven pos­si­bil­i­ties for Wash­ing­ton’s foot­ball team, my fa­vorite last.

The Some peo­ple think this town has no strong in­dus­try that could in­spire a name like the Pack­ers or Steel­ers, so they pro­pose the Wash­ing­ton Red Tape and such. But FBI agent Melvin Purvis and crew were suf­fi­ciently tough. As the G-Men, we’d be the only team with a fe­dora on our hel­met.

The Li­ons and tigers and bears, as Dorothy knew, are much scarier than wiz­ards. The Li­ons and the Bears are taken, but what about the Tigers? (There’s Detroit, but that’s base­ball.) As a team name, Tigers would of­fer both a retro ap­peal and a clean break from the past. In terms of the sound of the words, the hard “t” in Wash­ing­ton is echoed by the hard “t” in “Tigers.” Wash­ing­ton Tigers. It flows.

The We’d honor the Skins by re­nam­ing the fran­chise af­ter Joe Gibbs’s first-term of­fen­sive line. Un­for­tu­nately, as with wiz­ards (but for other rea­sons), hogs do not in­stantly con­vey ath­letic prow­ess. Also prob­lem­atic: This name would en­cour­age over­weight, un­fash­ion­ably cross-dressed men to don pig snouts in pub­lic.




Wash­ing­ton G-Men.

Wash­ing­ton Tigers.

Wash­ing­ton Hogs.


Wash­ing­ton Red Storm.

The St. John’s Univer­sity once was the Red­men but be­came the Red Storm. We, too, can evolve. If we don’t want to steal the St. John’s name, then we could be the Wash­ing­ton Red Swarm or the Wash­ing­ton Red Men­ace. Sure, the Red Men­ace sounds com­mu­nist, but a ro­bust cap­i­tal­ist such as Dan Sny­der could eas­ily turn a profit off the name.

The Lack­ing in­tim­i­dat­ing lo­cal fauna (the Wash­ing­ton Black Squir­rels?), we could fol­low the lead of teams in Florida, not to men­tion in Ja­pan, and name our fran­chise af­ter a form of sea life found lo­cally. Not threat­en­ing, but tasty.

The We’d have a snake of the revo­lu­tion­ary, don’t-tread-onme variety on our hel­mets. Rat­tlers are a nat­u­ral foe to Cow­boys, and, like Rock­fish, the name would re­tain the Red­skins’ “R.”

The To my ear, the Wash­ing­ton Bi­son has a most solid ring to it. “B” is a force­ful con­so­nant, and the words’ end­ings echo each other. Plus, it would honor the Dis­trict’s Howard Univer­sity. And a herd of large an­i­mals aiming to run you down — that’s a great foot­ball mas­cot.




Wash­ing­ton Rock­fish.

Wash­ing­ton Rat­tlers.

Wash­ing­ton Bi­son.

Sil­ver Spring mt­



Wash­ing­ton foot­ball fan Jared Rosen of Rockville at a 2005 game. Based solely on fa­cial adornment, he would seem par­tial to sug­ges­tion No. 5.

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