Every NFL team dedicates one game during November to the league’s Salute to Service campaign, which honors military veterans and raises money for nonprofits like the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project. Goal posts are wrapped in camo, helmet decals honor branches of the service, and staff wear campaign-inspired gear that bears team names—well, all teams except one.
The Washington Redskins’ Salute to Service gear during last week’s game against the New York Jets read simply “Washington Football” around the team’s logo. Washingtonian asked the Redskins why their team name wasn’t featured on the Salute to Service gear. “This would be a question for Nike,” team spokesperson Sean DeBarbieri tells us. “They issue all of the NFL team gear.”
So we asked Nike. It hasn’t replied, which makes us wonder: Could the issue be that someone involved with this tribute was skittish about using a slur about Native Americans, many of whom have served in the armed forces? (And during National Native American Heritage Month, no less.) A spokesperson for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which partnered with the league for the campaign, tells Washingtonian that “While we are a proud NFL Salute To Service partner, we are not involved in any clothing or product design.” Other partners, including the Pat Tillman Foundation, the USO, the Wounded Warrior Project, and TAPS have not replied.
Even in their much-diminished state, the Skins—or, if you prefer, the “Washington Football”—remain one of the league’s most valuable franchises, despite the fact that numerous media outlets and commentators refuse to use their name. Team owner Dan Snyder has consistently maintained he won’t change it. That stance may eventually become moot, though, if enough organizations that surround the team change it for them.