Saturday, February 16, 2013

Still Life With Robin: Hail to the Red____! (Part II)

Photo by Thomas S. Mann
 by Peggy Robin

So much enthusiasm for the Redskin name change! (the subject of last week's column -- see )

First, I heard from several readers who alerted me to the "potato" solution to the problem: Just substitute the image of a potato for the Indian head logo and keep the name the same. In my research into the subject I had encountered this suggestion multiple times, but now I am forced to confess that the point of this change had completely passed me by. That's because I don't know one potato from another and just assumed everyone was talking about a plain brown potato. Maybe it's some kind of Dada-ist commentary on offensive imagery --or so I thought--  a way of saying that if an image offends someone, replace it with something bland and meaningless, and the problem goes away. Well, I was definitely was overthinking that one! It's not a brown potato, it's a redskin potato. Now I get it. Clever! And thanks to the readers who let me in on the joke.

I also received some plausible suggestions by email and other means for a new team name. The first four on this list are all in some way associated with Washington power players:

The Washington Insiders

The Washington Wonks

The Washington Pundits

The Washington Sharks - as in, "This town is a shark tank."

The Washington Metros - but I have to add that I have my doubts about this one. A string of bad games would be bound to lead to nasty cracks about our poorly run, broken down Metro.

City Paper, as I probably should have mentioned last week, has been campaigning since October to change the name to the Pigskins: They're so committed to that name that they have pledged to ditch the name Redskins and substitute Pigskins (or Skins), until the name is changed (whether to that or something else).

Meanwhile, in online comments from readers of City Paper, the Huffington Post, and  sports discussion boards, any number of other possible team names have been bandied about. Here are a handful that keep coming up and seem to have the most supporters (in addition to The Washington Warriors, which I discussed last week):

The Washington Hogs. Already used widely as a team nickname, the idea is to make it official.

The Washington Federals (or The Feds). The main objection to this name stems from its prior use as the name of a USFL team and a fantasy football team.

The Washington Senators. Previously used for the city's baseball team, some argue that it's a historic team name, and that's all the more reason to re-purpose it for the football team.

The Washington Monuments. The question to consider in this case is "Can a large, immobile object make a good team mascot?"

The Washington Pandas. The question to consider in this case is, "Can a large, cuddly and not terribly agile animal make a good team mascot?"

The Washington Generals. It's in use for a touring exhibition basketball team, and that might be an insurmountable problem.

Just this morning, the Washington Post published letters on the subject on its main editorial page, ). That produced four more contenders to mull over.

The Washington Americans. This one worries me, though: If our guys are the Americans, then who are the other players? Russians? The French?

The Washington Gridlock. But the Washington Board of Trade and other civic boosters would never go for it.

The Beltway Bandits. See above for the reason it'll never fly.

The Washington Presidents. Hmmm... I was having a hard time figuring out why this name just doesn't sound right for a team. I think it comes down to the Constitution and the way it defines the office. I mean, we have just one president at a time. It seems odd to think of eleven Presidents out on a field, working together as teammates. Maybe it should be the Executive Branch -- though that's not very catchy. Neither is The Washington Cabinet. I would suggest The Washington Secretaries, but then it would just be abbreviated "The Washington Secs" -- and you see what the problem is with that.

If you don't go for any of the ones above, you can find more argument-worthy team names at . Of the ones discussed there, I like these:

The Washington Redhawks, which keeps the same initial syllable, plus it's a type of bird seen locally. Only problem is it's too similar to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Washington Potomacs. It's a local river with a strong current. Nothing objectionable here.but not very exciting, either.

The Washington Supremes. Sure, name the team after the Supreme Court. They're powerful, they're smart, and it's high time they got some recognition for their ability to pivot quickly and punt when necessary.

But at the end of the day, I'm sticking with the pick I made last week, The Washington Red White & Blue. It starts with Red. It's a nickname for the US Flag (everybody loves the flag), and it's catchy and colorful. There's just one problem with it, or with any new name that anyone has come up with, and the name of that problem is Dan Snyder. He is dead set against any name change for the team, and he's sticking to that position, no matter how many blue-ribbon Smithsonian panels are brought to bear on him to change his mind. (See .)

If I could change just one thing about the team, that's the one I'd change first.


Still Life With Robin is published on Saturdays on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and All Life Is Local.

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