On Monday, the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced that they will be changing their name.
After years of “controversy” in which team owner Dan Snyder – seemingly inept in all things football save for championing the heritage of his club – resisted taking a knee to public pressure, he’s finally caved.
The Redskins are no more.
And those Cowboys-vs.-Indians Thanksgiving specials you grew up watching? Those are finished, too.
Of course, the former Redskins won’t be the last team to change their mascot, team name, theme song, and celebratory chants in the weeks and months to come (see the Atlanta Braves). Many more clubs are on the (tomahawk) chopping block, or will be, as the dominoes start to fall.
To that end, we last week highlighted some of the major US sports franchises that could be shedding their pasts, and there seems no end in sight.
Per the Washington Post, the now former Redskins released a simple statement, discussing dumping their name and how the process to pick a new moniker is already in the works:
“[The] review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward. Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.”
Apparently, the former Redskins have narrowed down the contenders for its new mascot to two things, neither of which has been revealed. It is said that the club’s top choice is currently the subject of a trademark dispute, which is why the name is still a secret.
Interestingly – or not so interestingly, depending on your level of real-world bona fides in the business realm – the former Redskins were not as moved by “social justice” as they were by the almighty dollar.
In the wake of COVID-19 – with NFL attendance sure to be an issue (if it exists at all) in 2020 – sponsors are more important than ever.
FedEx – who holds the stadium naming rights for the former Redskins, said that it would break its contract and withhold the remaining $45 million if the team didn’t rebrand. Other sponsors, like PepsiCo and Bank of America, took the same tack.
Nike, the NFL’s exclusive merchandise partner, went so far as to stop selling all Redskins apparel until such a time as “Redskins” was no more.
Whether or not these sponsorships are more valuable to the former Redskins than the fans they’re sure to alienate with this move remains to be seen, but the team is going to lose money either way.
The decision to change the name indicates that those in charge believe the hit to the pocketbook will be more limited by taking the rebranding route.
Allegedly – according to freshman Washington head coach Ron Rivera, who is working with Snyder to come up with a new name – the to-be-unveiled moniker should honor both the military and Native Americans, for some reason.
That seems risky, as names attached to human groups or subgroups – however innocuous or inoffensive they may seem in the moment – are likely to be criticized vocally right off the hop.
Military references are a nonstarter in the age of “defund the police,” and any Native American reference seems problematic from the outset. There are no Indians in the NFL, for one. For another, what is laudable now might be a “harmful” insult later.
Revisionist history is expensive, and the former Redskins should not flirt with setting up another scandal – and another several-hundred-million-dollar rebrand – that will come to a head in 5-10 years from now.
Instead, if the former Redskins are smart, they should adopt a name that is predicated on some natural, non-human aspect of the team’s region.
Name the club after an animal, and they might weather any future cancel culture nonsense. The Chicago Bears are NFG in the NFL, but at least their team name is above reproach. Who doesn’t love a big, fuzzy critter?
Indeed, this is good political advice for any ball club looking to change its image in the current sociopolitical landscape of America 2020.
So, too, is it good advice for bettors.
Before taking the lines down last week, BetOnline had the following odds posted for the new name of the Redskins:
Washington Redskins New Name if Changed
- Redtails +300
- Generals +400
- Presidents +500
- Lincolns +600
- Veterans +800
- Capitols +900
- Americans +1000
- Memorials +1000
- Monuments +1000
- Kings +1200
- Roosevelts +1200
- Redhawks +1500
- Jeffersons +2000
- Renegades +2200
- Arlingtons +2500
- Hogs +5000
- Snowflakes +50000
- Trumps +50000
Of these, of course, it’s easy to pick the nonstarters.
No historical personage would get the nod, because that’s another rebrand waiting to happen. Similarly, any human institutions referential to governance would be equally “problematic” eventually, if not immediately.
As a result, Generals, Presidents, Lincolns, Veterans, Capitols, Americans, Memorials, Monuments, Kings, Roosevelts, Jeffersons, Renegades, Arlingtons, and Trumps are right out.
Snowflakes would be particularly apropos, but that’s out, too.
So from this list, only Redtails, Redhawks, and Hogs would work. And those, of course, are meaningless to the region specifically but prominent generally nationwide.
Because the current favorite name – whatever it is – is in the midst of trademark negotiations, speculation on our part indicates that the team – in looking to meld some sort of Native American and US military mascot into one bizarre amalgam – is likely to field a name that not only fits the bill but is also in current use by a team in another league.
With this as a premise, here is our own in-house list of potential names for the former Redskins, sans betting odds (but in order of our personal favorites should lines ever be introduced):
- Warriors (NBA)
- Braves (MLB)
If the former Redskins are going to pick a name that already exists in sports, these are the top choices that make sense as referential to both Native Americans and the traditional US military ethos.
If we add in the NCAA, the list might be expanded to include the following:
- Rainbow Warriors
- Thundering Herd
Of course, the entire premise, as stated, is flawed if a future renaming is to be avoided.
Thus, if the former Redskins wish to fly under the radar forever going forward, it would be in their interest to pick a geographical or animal mascot – something relevant to the Washington, DC, area. (Albeit even having “Washington” in the name could be an issue sooner than later.)
As such, here are some innocuous – or seemingly innocuous – names that the former Redskins could pick and be assured of general stability going forward:
- Wildcats – The safest and most common name in all of organized sports.
- Chimney Swifts – They kind of look like a football in flight.
- Coyotes – Lots of precedence with ample military and Native American references.
- Deer – But not white-tailed deer, of course.
- Box Turtles – An inoffensive creature through and through.
- Foxes – Fits the red theme so jerseys wouldn’t have to change color schemes.
- Skunks – Washington does kind of stink.
- Gray Squirrels – The former Redskins have had many a squirrely runner in its time.
- Woodchucks – Could also go with Groundhogs or Whistle Pigs.
- Copperheads – Wouldn’t require much in the way of uniform color alterations.
- Potomacs – A major river with Native American and military naming heritage.
- Prickly Pears – A cactus. Good enough.
- Blue Ridge Mountains – The former Redskins aren’t nearly romantic enough, but the “Washington Blue Ridge” has a ring to it.
While we jest (just a bit), you should keep some of these things in mind for any Vegas political props on changing team names that may be posted in the future.
Bet against human institutions, specific people or historical figures, and anything with a tinge of governance or policing in the name. Bet in favor of anything based on critters or the natural landscape.
That’s our advice, and we’re sticking to it.
Too bad the Redskins didn’t just change their mascot to a potato and call it a day. Or just call themselves the Reskins and double down on virtual sports and eSports sponsorships.
Source: Washington Post