Washington Franchise Will Have New Nickname After 87 Years
When 34-year old Dan Snyder purchased the Washington Redskins in 1999, he inherited two issues from previous team owners that evolved into major problems for him.
Founding owner George Preston Marshall named his NFL team the Boston Redskins in 1933. After being poorly supported in New England, Marshall moved the Redskins to Washington, D.C. in 1937.
Jack Kent Cooke, who became the sole franchise owner in 1985, shifted the team to a large new suburban stadium in 1997 in Landover, Maryland. It has proven to be an unpopular venue for season-ticket holders who favored the previous cozy—but worn– confines of RFK Stadium in the District.
Snyder addressed the first issue last Monday when the team announced it was retiring its 87-year old nickname and logo for a yet-to-be-revealed new name.
The reaction to the change was mixed among several team alumni.
Charles Mann, who won two Super Bowl titles in Washington from 1983-93, believes it was the right thing to do.
“I don’t think it’s difficult at all,” says Mann. “Names have been changed on several teams. Twenty years ago, when people first started talking about this, I was open to the discussion. I think the issue then and the issue now is that it’s offensive to people. That’s it…plain and simple.”
NFL Alumni local chapter president Mark Moseley, who kicked for the Redskins from 1974-85, disagrees.
“I’m disappointed that we’ve given up the fight here,” Moseley told local WJLA-TV. “I’ve spent the last seven years with some other alumni visiting Native American tribes around the country and speaking to as many of them as possible. We have done camps for their kids. I grew up with the Alabama Coushatta Indians in Texas and I’ve known their plight for most of my life. I’m disappointed because the Native Americans are the ones that are losing with this change. They respected us; they loved the Redskins.”
The Washington Post, a longtime critic of the Redskins name, conducted a survey in 2016 of 504 Native Americans. The poll showed that 90 percent of them were not bothered by the name and that 73 percent did not find the term disrespectful.
Nonetheless, Snyder made his announcement this week after major sponsors, including FedEx, said they would withdraw their support of the team.
Former Redskins safety Brad Edwards (1991-93), who now is Athletic Director at George Mason University, is looking forward to the next chapter in the team’s history under new coach Ron Rivera.
“I think at this point it’s the right decision, “ Edwards says. “In my first athletic director’s job at Newberry College in South Carolina, the Board voted to change its mascot from the Indians during my first month at the school. I was placed in charge of the entire process and the mascot is now the Wolves.”
Regardless of the final decision, we at NFL Alumni are certain that the new name will not be unanimously loved by loyal team fans. However, they now will have time in the years ahead to turn their attention and support to a new and more convenient stadium in the area.