Dude’s Thoughts About Team Name Changes

Now that folks are on the cause of changing the name of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL), other teams with Native American mascots are also under scrutiny for changing their names. I thought it would be fun to explore alternative names these teams could be called.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (NFL)

First, we will start with the obvious one – the Washington Redskins. The franchise has been known as the Redskins since they changed their name from the Boston Braves in 1933. The have already been some suggestions for changing the NFL’s Washington D.C. franchise to one of the following:

  • Washington Warriors – If you remove references to Native Americans and replace it with our nation’s veterans, this would work.
  • Washington Football Club – Not a bad suggestion. Not sure what logo you would have with this one but you could keep the colors.
  • Washington Renegades – You could still keep the “R” from Redskins with this one.
  • Washington Americans – Kinda fitting and patriotic but you couldn’t keep the colors.
  • Washington Pigskins – This is a creative one since the offensive line is often referred to as the hogs.
  • Washington Redtails – You could keep the “Red” part of the name as well as the colors. Name refers to an airplane or bird.
  • Washington Redhawks – Many college teams have changed their “Redskins” name to this one.
  • Washington Griffins – Refers to a mythical creature but I’m not sure it fits.
  • Washington Federals – Comes from the former United States Football League (USFL) from the 80s. Could be a possiblity.
  • Washington Generals – This is my preference and would be fitting for a team from the nation’s capital.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (NFL)

Another NFL team in line for a name change would be the Kansas City Chiefs. It is said that the name came from former Kansas City mayor Harold Roe Bartle, a white man who founded a “fake Indian Boy Scout tribe” and adopted the nickname “Chief” as his own when the team moved from Dallas to Kansas City in 1963. Here are some name change suggestions:

  • Kansas City Stallions – This one rolls off the tongue pretty well but in a league with Colts and Broncos, I don’t think it would be a possibility.
  • Kansas City Mustangs – Another good one but a top choice.
  • Kansas City Renegades – Remove the reference to Native Americans and this one might work.
  • Kansas City Wranglers – I like this one. I think you could maybe keep the helmet logo with the arrowhead and the team colors.

CLEVELAND INDIANS (MLB)

Major League Baseball (MLB) has a few teams that might need a change starting with the Cleveland Indians.  The nickname “Indians” that was applied to the Cleveland Spiders baseball club during the time when Louis Sockalexis, a Native American, played in Cleveland (1897–99). Here are some alternate names:

  • Cleveland Spiders – This was the name of the team previously but I don’t see any Cleveland fans embracing it.
  • Cleveland Cobras – The name flows but it is a long way from the current name.
  • Cleveland Buckeyes – This is a popular suggestion but I don’t see it happening since you have Ohio State using the same name.

ATLANTA BRAVES (MLB)

Dare we say that the Atlanta Braves are in this line for a name change? A “Brave” is a Native American Warrior so it would seem so. James Gaffney bought the team in 1912, and adopted the nickname Braves for his new team after the Native American symbol used for his Tammany Hall political group Gaffney was associated with. The organization relocated to Milwaukee in 1953, and finally to Atlanta in 1966 but always retained the Braves name. Here are some ideas:

  • Atlanta Tomahawks – This would work but might still be a bit too close to a Native American reference.
  • Atlanta Thrashers – I really like this name for the team revived from the former National Hockey League’s franchise that played in Atlanta. It is the state bird and would fit along with other bird names in baseball.
  • Atlanta Firebirds – I kinda like this one but I’m not sure it would stick.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL)

The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Chicago Blackhawks. They say they were named in honor of the U.S. 86th Infantry Division, which was nicknamed the Blackhawk Division” after Black Hawk, a Native American chief; the team’s founder, Frederic McLaughlin, having served in that division. Some ideas here:

  • Chicago Black Hawks – I would simply focus on the bird more than a Native American logo or reference.
  • Chicago Bruisers – This actually isn’t bad and really sounds like a hockey name.

Will these names be changed? I doubt it. These teams have been branded and there is a lot of money to be lost in merchandising. Every time this name issue comes up, it becomes an issue and eventually goes away until the next time it gets stirred up. They should still change these names but it would take some major pressure to get them done.

Dude’s Thoughts On Offensive Sports Team Names

I read yesterday where people are changing Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s because these symbols are offensive. There has also been widespread calls to remove Confederate symbols from public display. I totally agree with these efforts to put these symbols in museums instead of public displays of honor. This started me thinking about some offensive team nicknames that should be changed.

Which brings me to the Washington Redskins.

Why in the hell do we still have a sports team called the Redskins? Is this not beyond offensive? Why has this not been changed yet? Just imagine what it would be like if the team were another color skin name? Not much difference yet Washington’s National Football League (NFL) franchise continues to go with it.

Over the years there have been several colleges which have changed their offensive nicknames. I’m still not sure about using nicknames such as Indians, Braves or Seminoles. While some say that these nicknames aren’t as offensive as Redskins what if we had teams named “Mexicans” or “Asians”? Hmmm, that gives it a different spin doesn’t it? So why is it okay for Native American names and not other ethnic groups?

Back to the Redskins….what’s stopping them from changing it? I guess it’s money and merchandising. Who the heck thought it was a good idea to name a football team in the NATION’S capital “Redskins” anyway? There have been many suggestions to change the name and logo to Warriors, Heroes, Redhawks, Griffins, Generals or Federals. They only need to look at their National Basketball Association (NBA) brothers – the Washington Wizards – who were known as the Washington Bullets until they changed their name in 1997 because the owner didn’t want the team’s name to be associated with any violent references.

I think it’s time to change it.

There have been similar protests against the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs but I guess these are considered tame compared to a team named for a SKIN color. Seriously?

Colleges which changed their offensive nicknames:

  • Arkansas State – from Indians to Red Wolves
  • Belmont – from Rebels to Bruins
  • Miami (Ohio) – from Redskins to RedHawks
  • North Dakota – from Fighting Sioux to Fighting Hawks
  • St. Johns – from Redmen to Red Storm
  • Southeast Missouri State – from Indians to Redhawks
  • Sycracuse – from Orangemen to Orange

While we’re at it, I’m in favor of eliminating nicknames Rebels, Demons and Devils. Rebels are mostly reference to the Civil War and as for Demons and Devils – do we really need these too? The Wake Forest “Demon Deacons”??? Well, I have known some church deacons sooooo….

For years I have supported my position for Demons in that I was supporting the players and not the mascot of the team. Now it seems a little hypocritical for me to be offended when someone supports something with a demonic theme when I am saying “Go Demons” at a football game. I am going to end that practice.

I’m also wondering about the Chicago Blackhawks name of the National Hockey League (NHL). It’s the name of a Native American tribe but does it need to be a team’s name?

Let’s get this right and fix these nicknames. Yes, I know people get easily offended regardless what you do but let’s start with teams named “Redskins” and go from there.

Check out some of these books about the origins of sports team nicknames: