It Feels Different This Time


It is certainly not without precedent for me to write about a kerfuffle regarding the name of the Washington team in the NFL.  What feels different this time around, is that the real missing ingredient from all the rhetorical and moral skirmishes of the past is in the mix this time.  That missing ingredient, the one that I have always said would be the sine qua non, is money.  So long as Danny Boy Snyder and the NFL do not see a disruption in their revenue streams, the advocates for a name change are pissing into the wind.

What is different this time around is that two major NFL sponsors, Nike and Pepsi, are on the side of changing the name to the point where Nike has taken all of the Skins’ apparel items off the Nike website and Pepsi saw a letter from shareholders who control more than $600B in assets asking the company to withdraw all support to the team.  That is the start of “economic pressure” and it adds to a direct statement from FedEx to change the team name.

FedEx owns the naming rights to the Skins’ dilapidated stadium and FedEx founder Fred Smith is also a minority owner of the Skins’ franchise.  Since FedEx owns naming rights, I guess it would be possible for them to change the name to FedUp Field; I am sure the NFL image sentries would love that.

Danny Boy Snyder has instituted a thorough review of this entire matter.  [Translation: He is going to try to find a way out of this mess such that he does not look like a giant sphincter.]  Good luck to him in that endeavor.  It was about 5 years ago when this same kerfuffle was in the news that The Onion had a great headline to one of its articles.  Sadly, it will not be a way out of the box for Danny Boy Snyder in 2020:

“Washington Redskins change team name to D. C. Redskins”

NFL teams have changed names over the history of the league but normally a name change accompanies a city change too:

  • Cleveland Browns become Baltimore Ravens
  • Houston Oilers become Tennessee Titans
  • Dallas Texans become KC Chiefs

[Aside:  City changes sometimes retain team names such as the Colts, Rams and Raiders.]

I can only think of two NFL teams that changed names and stayed in the same city.

  1. The Boston Braves became the Boston Redskins then the Washington Redskins.
  2. The NY Titans became the NY Jets.

I said above that economics was squarely in the mix this time the name change argument was front and center.  Here is an example of the misapplication of economics to the issue.  Last week, the President of the National Congress of American Indians requested that the players threaten a boycott if the name was not changed.  Using rough numbers, there are 2000 players who will be in the NFL in 2020 – – assuming there is a season in 2020 – – and those players would take down approximately $6.4B in salaries.  The President of the National Congress of American Indians did not suggest any means by which even a portion of that forgone $6.4B might be recouped.

The time for rhetoric here has long since passed.  Just change the name and put this issue to a merciful death.  Lots of folks are out there suggesting new names for the team and some people feel compelled to keep “Red” as part of the team name.  Some of those suggestions include “Redhawks” and “Redtails”; I guess this follows in the path trod by St. John’s University which changed from “Redmen” to “Red Storm”.  One team name that should offend no one because it is so obviously correct would be:

  • Washington Gridlock

That would honor the traffic situation here and the political situation nationally…

One positive bit of NFL news is that the league and the players’ union are negotiating some of the details regarding a 2020 season in the days of COVID-19.  The league wants to cut the Exhibition Games from 4 down to 2; the players union wants to cut the Exhibition Games from 4 down to ZERO.  I can be happy with any outcome from this negotiation that results in fewer than 4 Exhibition Games.

Reports have revealed some of the details of Cam Newton’s contract with the New England Patriots:

  • The Base Salary is $1.05M with $500K guaranteed
  • Roster bonuses and other performance incentives could make this worth $7.5M
  • Contract term is 1- year
  • Patriots retained the right to put the franchise tag on Newton after the 2020 season – – if there is one.

That last item is interesting.  Dak Prescott just signed a 1-year contract under the franchise tag with the Dallas Cowboys worth $31.41M.  If Newton “gets tagged” next year, that would be a significant year-over-year pay raise…

Finally, Bob Molinaro had this thought in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week.  It goes along with the idea we all must keep in mind regarding the 2020 NFL season; there may not be one:

Caveat emptor: The NFL, which plans to have fans in the stands, reportedly has broached the idea of requiring customers who attend games to sign liability waivers absolving the league of responsibility for contracting COVID-19. This could open the way for a new NFL slogan: ‘On any given Sunday … you might go home with coronavirus.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



3 thoughts on “It Feels Different This Time”

  1. Snyder’s chance of looking like another other than the satchel a woman uses to bring home her sanitary needs from Peoples Drug evaporated years ago.

    St. John’s… the Curse of the Red Men? 70s and 80s the Red Men were a national power, briefly held a #1 ranking in the 80s IIRC. Then they got politically correct and changed the name. Now they do not even make the Dance.

    (BTW, back in those days the Big East had 4 big name coaches.. Carnesecca, Boeheim, Massimino, and Thompson…. Louie’s 95. 3 of the 4 are still alive, and Boeheim is still coaching… is basketball coaching what Ponce de Leon was looking for? and maybe the biggest name in college coaching was Wooden, who almost made 100)

    I don’t get the uproar about names like St. John’s. It was not pejorative. I can get being insulted by Washington, or the Cleveland or Atlanta mascots… Red Men? We have a STATE pretty much named that – Oklahoma means red people.

    Could Danny Boy be hoping to hold out a name change as a gesture of goodwill when he tries to get some government body to subsidize his next ballpark?

    1. Ed:

      I think Snyder knows that he has far more pressure on him to change the team name this time around. If he sees an opening that would allow him to make a deal where the name change got him a clear path to a new stadium at the site of RFK Stadium, I think he would take it and run.

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