News & Politics

New Names for the Washington Redskins

The push to change the Redskins’ name is getting stronger. But what to call the team? Oh, the possibilities.

Five months after their first-round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins are facing their traditional off-season rivals: critics of the team’s name. Writers, activists, and scholars have argued for years (correctly) that “Redskins” is a racial slur against Native Americans. The name has been declared “derogatory” by the US Patent and Trademark Office, and opponents have sued—so far unsuccessfully—to have it changed. Now members of the DC Council are joining the fight.

Illustrations by Polygraph.

At-large council member David Grosso introduced a nonbinding resolution in early May calling on Redskins owner Dan Snyder to scrap the team’s moniker. “The name ‘Redskins’ is historically racist and derogatory,” Grosso said in a letter to Snyder. As a replacement, he suggested the Washington Redtails, a reference to the Tuskegee Airmen, a celebrated group of African-American World War II pilots.

He hasn’t heard back from Snyder, nor does he expect to. “Their level of respect for our body is probably not that high,” says Grosso, one of the only DC Council members not recently embroiled in a scandal of some sort. And although Snyder insists he won’t change the team’s name, here are some recommendations.

The Washington Half-Smokes
Brought to you by Ben’s Chili Bowl.

The Washington Filibusters
Motto: “If you can’t beat ’em, talk.”

The Washington Red Tape
Requires only a minor tweak to “Hail to the Redskins.” Opponents will fear the long lines and triplicate forms.

The Washington Lame Ducks
Not as imposing as they were four years ago, but still influential.

The Washington Super PAC-ers
Downside: Management will have to clear a roster spot for a campaign-finance lawyer. (Sorry, Reed Doughty.)

The Washington Shadow Senators
An opportunity to inspire players with a message of humility: Who needs a vote in Congress when you get to park this close to the Capitol?

The Washington Tax Dodgers
Team motto: “The only thing worse than losing is paying top marginal tax rates.”

The Washington BlackBerrys
Pursuing a goal even more ambitious than a Super Bowl championship: winning the morning.

This article appears in the June 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.