Dan Snyder: What’s in a name?

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So, Daniel Snyder caved.

If you have no idea who Daniel Snyder is, you are lucky. He is the owner of what is still known as the Washington Redskins football team. However, if you cover sports and report on professional football, you probably refer to them only as Washington because Redskins is offensive. Snyder once claimed he would never change the team’s name as long as he owned it.

Snyder failed to grasp that while he owns the team, he does not own the stadium they play in. With Snyder wanting to move into RFK Stadium, he was caught in a pickle because the stadium sold the naming rights to Federal Express who now calls the stadium FedEx Field. Federal Express said they will not allow Snyder’s team to play in the stadium if they call themselves The Redskins.

Since Federal Express can afford to not host Snyder’s team more than Snyder can afford to not play there, it seems never has arrived for Danny boy.

Personally, I do not care if Snyder calls the team Redskins, Potato Skins, or Foreskins. It’s his team and I don’t like them no matter what they call themselves, not because of their name, but because of Daniel Snyder. He may be very rich, but when it comes to running a professional football team, he clearly knows very little. In professional sports, winning championships is supposed to be the goal, something Snyder has never come close to achieving. Heck, making the playoffs has been a rarity under his ownership.

If the team’s use of Redskins, something it has been called since 1933, is offensive enough to keep fans from supporting the team, just wait until he changes it to something less offensive. The team will still suck, and it will be because of the name Snyder. Daniel Snyder is the sole reason Washington can’t field a decent football team.

When I was growing up during the 70’s in the Bay Area, Stanford University dropped their mascot Indians because it was considered offensive. They became the Cardinal to reflect their school’s color while using a tree inside the letter S even though the state has a long and horrific history of cutting them down to make space for 40 million people, a tragedy no one talks about because, well, because they are trees.

Their rival, Cal, refers to themselves as the Bears even though they have been driven out by development. Down the road, there are the San Jose State Spartans which makes absolutely no sense which is perfect because their athletic department does not either.

I attended college in northern California at CSU Chico where we are known as the Wildcats. You don’t find many actual wildcats any more, just like bears, but instead of dropping the nickname because we chased off an animal that once thrived, my alma mater got rid of its football program because it thrived even less.

Our state also has Bruins, Trojans, Giants, A’s, Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Kings, and a slew of others that make little sense. One of the few sensible team names are the Chargers because of our citizens’ penchant for running up huge credit card debt. However, the team should replace the lightning bolt on their helmet with a credit card.

The San Francisco 49ers is a perfect example of a great team name. It represents the hard-working folks who came to this land to strike it rich during the gold rush. Until last year, the team was about as successful as the average 49er was in 1849. Still, the name is one of the best names for any professional sports franchise. It’s just too bad they don’t play in San Francisco.

Here is what I find strange about the movement to change the name of Redskins. The team plays in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., named after our first president, George Washington. However, Washington was also a slave owner and given the even larger movement to rid ourselves of our past association with slavery, it seems to me we should be changing the name of our center for government.

We can change it to Lincoln, D.C., in honor of Abe Lincoln. Snyder could then name his team the Logs. I don’t think there is anything offensive about Lincoln Logs. They were among my favorite toy sets as a child, even though they hurt like hell when you stepped on one in the middle of the night. FedEx Field can become known as the Log Cabin. Instead of their fans calling themselves hogs and wearing dresses and a pig’s nose, they might want to dress as honest Abe and wait for the other team to kill them.

In the end, it won’t matter because as long as Daniel Snyder remains the owner, their fans will one day say, “Four score and seven years ago, our team actually won a world title. Conceived from talent, led by a great coach, and most of all owned by someone whose last name was not Snyder.”

Top photo: Daniel Snyder, owner and chairman of the board of the Washington Redskins,
speaking at the National Press Club, by Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution) Also check Jim Wallace Fickr