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Joe Henderson Columns
COLUMN

What’s in a name? For Washington’s NFL team, plenty

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Published:   |   Updated: August 25, 2014 at 09:38 AM

There is predictable outrage from many about the strong-armed attempt to force the owner of Washington’s National Football League franchise to change the team’s nickname to something less, well, racist. Daniel Snyder vows he will never give in and has dug in deep enough to strike oil.

He has support from those who believe this is all a giant Obama plot from the Agency of Thought Control. As proof, they note that in June the U.S. Patent Office also canceled six trademarks for the team, calling the nickname-that-shall-not-be-named offensive to Native Americans.

I thought that was a clever ploy, actually, but some counter that the logo for baseball’s Cleveland Indians is a clownish looking, red-faced, feather-wearing Native American and there is no national outcry over that.

The Atlanta Braves also encourage fans to rip off Florida State’s Tomahawk Chop cheer.

And, yes, speaking of FSU, what’s up with that whole Seminoles name and those arrows on the side of the football team’s helmets? Nothing, really: FSU has written approval from the Seminole Tribe of Florida to use those images and more. The Tribe takes its association with FSU as a source of pride.

Why are we so hard on Washington’s team? For starters, look at the recent study by Cal State University, San Bernadino that showed 67 percent of native Americans found the nickname offensive.

Opponents don’t seem to care about that. They basically say this is a vast conspiracy by liberal troublemakers, and people should get over it. Problem solved, right?

Well, those offended by the name are basically saying Snyder should get over it. Freedom works both ways, you know.

CBS lead football announcer Phil Simms says he might decline to refer to the team by its nickname during a Sept. 11 broadcast (he would only use the word Washington).

Tampa’s Tony Dungy, NBC analyst and widely considered the NFL’s moral compass, said he will try not to use the R-word this season.

You think the only reason Donald Sterling had to sell his National Basketball Association franchise in Los Angeles was because his racist remarks were incredibly offensive? They were, of course, but check the bank book first. The lout was hurting the collective NBA brand around the globe.

That’s what Synder is doing now, and it will get worse because public pressure isn’t going to stop.

Besides, don’t try to tell me Washington’s football nickname is iconic and can’t be changed.

Miami University is located in Oxford, Ohio, an area rich in Native American history. I should know. I grew up near there.

The school’s teams were also known by the same nickname engulfed in controversy now, and they started playing football in 1888. The university changed the name to the Redhawks in 1997 after deciding that, gee, a tomahawk-toting mascot might be offensive.

Washington’s NFL nickname has only been around since 1933.

Standards evolve, you know. The Washington Wizards of the NBA used to be named the Bullets before then-owner Abe Pollin, alarmed at the gun violence in the nation’s capitol, changed the name.

The NFL will fine a player for showing too much sock on game day. It will take away players’ livelihoods for failed drug tests. The league is even thinking about charging Super Bowl halftime entertainers for the “privilege” of performing on its global stage.

Although I would prefer the government stay out of this and let public pressure do its job, someone could slip a note to spineless NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I’ll even write it.

Hey Rog, there’s something rotten in your kingdom. My man, get your eyes off players’ socks and protect the brand.

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