Here’s an intriguing possible new name for Washington’s football team

June 4, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 4, 2014

A couple of months back, I wrote a lighthearted post suggesting some possible new monikers for the National Football League franchise in Washington, D.C.; I refuse to use the current name because many consider it to be a racial slur. Some of the suggestions in my piece more serious than others.

The other day, I happened to stumble upon an article penned by Clinton Yates on The Washington Post’s website. Yates was raised as a fan of the Washington football team, but a few years ago, his father announced that the team’s nickname and image would be banned from the family’s household.

Yates was initially shocked by the declaration, which seemed to him to be an abrupt turnabout on the part of his father. But Yates came to agree with his dad’s point of view, which boiled down to this: “We don’t propagate racist imagery in this household.”

I mention this not so much to share that anecdote but to spread the word about a suggestion for an alternative team name that Yates favors. Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, has proposed calling the team the Washington Americans.

I’m not yet convinced that the Americans is the best of all possible replacement names. But there are a few reasons why this name works well, including the fact that it’s not a racial slur.

I’m skeptical that Dan Snyder — the stubborn, reprehensible owner of the team — is open to changing the name. But everyone is susceptible to pressure. A groundswell of support, not just for changing the name but for changing it to something specific, can only help speed the removal of the ugliest team name in American sports.

Besides, simply shrugging one’s shoulders and saying that there’s nothing that we can do to change the name would simply be handing Snyder, and his racist supporters, an undeserved victory.

Change can be slow to come to Washington. In the case of this team name, it’s many years overdue. Go Americans.


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