“A change is gonna come,” Sam Cooke sang, whether the Washington Redskins like it or not.
The debate over the team’s name goes on and on, but the die-hards defending the offensive moniker are eventually going to end up on the losing end of the score. They’re not an immovable object resisting an inevitable force.
“Redskins” is an epithet, not a rally flag tag like “Fighting Irish.”
So sooner or later, the team is going to give way to the pressures of the times, just like Donald Sterling had to do, just like opponents of gay rights are doing. Time and history are not on their side.
While their never-give-in owner, Daniel Snyder, re-enacts Custer’s last stand, everybody else should get on with it and prepare for the change. The reformist element in their fan world should get busy and organize an online referendum to choose a new nickname.
For those fans who are feeling really guilty about the name and feel that some reparations to Native Americans are due, I suggest they consider a transitional nom de guerre be used until a permanent name is chosen.
How about the Washington Palefaces? Or the Gringos? Better yet, the Crackers?
For those not burdened by remorse but tired of the team’s nearly interminable losing ways, Deadskins or Dreadskins might work.
For fans weary of another unsuccessful enterprise in the team’s hometown, the Congress of the United States, the franchise could be called the Know-Nothings or Do-Nothings until they rediscover the way to get things done.
People who really like the “red” part of the current name and want to keep at least that part of it have several options. Red Rovers would be reminiscent of the kids’ game many of us used to play, where the contestants form two opposing lines and then send representatives charging across the intervening no man’s land to break through the opposing human chain.
It’s a bit like football, without having the ball. Something the you-know-whos can relate to.
Red Wigglers might appeal to fans angry with the way other teams are usually able to bury their heroes in the dirt. Red Tide might work, too, since the team always seems to be successful at smothering everybody’s hopes for a winning season.
Red Herrings could appeal to fans who aren’t sure owner Snyder is putting a real team on the gridiron every week.
More charitable, more optimistic supporters might like Red Barons for the image of courage that conjures up, or Red Scares for the feelings of menacing power it stirs but fans so rarely feel.
Red Roses, Red Buds and Red Robins might work with fans of a kinder, gentler nature. The team’s offense might find them attractive, too.
It’s going to be a lot harder to satisfy folks partial to the “skin” part of the current equation, because that’s where the rub is. Whenever you start talking about skin, you risk getting burned.
You could call the team the Skinners, but that would probably upset animal rights folks. You could try Skinnies, but that would leave the whole defensive line out of the picture. Skinflickers would offend the family values element.
But Skinflints could work. It seems the team is always saving its scoring for some game later in the season.
Whatever temporary, place-holder name is chosen, when the franchise finally gives in and joins the 21st century, a Name-That-Team Super Bowl contest for fans could be the most fun part of the redesignation process. That’s a subject that warrants a whole ’nother discussion, but I’d like to offer Capital Crunch as an opening kickoff.
However long this renaming process takes, the fans who see the handwriting on the scoreboard should start buying up all the Redskins memorabilia they can find. Granted, when the change does come, there’ll be a glut of the stuff on eBay and at thrift shops. There’ll be tables of it at yard sales, too.
But collect and save the best of it for your grandkids. In 20 years or so it’ll be a less plentiful and it might help them buy a ticket to one of the Washington Whatevers games. Maybe the team will have winning seasons by then, too.