It took some years but the Washington Football Team is finally going to have a name that is neither a racial slur nor the name a middle schooler would choose in create-a-franchise mode, if forced by parents to play Madden instead of Grand Theft Auto. Washington announced today that on Feb. 2 its new name and logo will be unveiled.
The name change has to be done, and it might be a great PR day for Washington. It should be an easy PR win with new jerseys and helmets and a team name, but knowing this franchise a dark storm cloud of incompetence or malfeaseance will likely drench the occasion with embarrassment and controversy.
Washington’s latest public shame came following its 20-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. There’s no shame in losing a close game to the Eagles, but the home stadium attacking the Eagles’ starting quarterback is a different story. Jalen Hurts was in the tunnel high-fiving Eagles fans when the railing at FedEx field collapsed, sending the railing and the fans hurling toward Hurts.
NFL fans all know that FedEx Field is arguably the worst stadium in the league. It’s difficult to get to the stadium, the design is an eyesore, and the playing surface is atrocious. Still, this stadium was constructed in 1997. A 25-year-old building should not have railings collapse or pipes burst and drench fans with water. If this is the best Washington can do for a football arena, they should’ve stayed at RFK Stadium. At least that venue had character and is so close to a train station that the stop literally has the word “stadium” in the name.
And for the fans that took a tumble, I hope those Instagram likes from their quick videos with Hurts provided pain relief, because they are alleging the staff at FedEx Field provided no help. Washington said in a statement that, to its knowledge, the fans that fell all received on site medical attention. Several of those fans told ESPN’s Tim McManus they did not receive any medical attention at the stadium.
At the beginning of Washington’s video they released today about the name change, the narrator, along with former Super Bowl winning coach Joe Gibbs, talks about tradition and says that new changes in uniform and name must reflect the proud history and legacy of the franchise.
The proud history and legacy of Washington’s NFL franchise. The franchise with the former racial slur team name and racist logo that once forced its players to wear war paint and perform stereotypical Native American dances. The franchise that had to be forced by the United States Executive Branch to integrate its roster. The franchise that in recent years has been in the public eye as much for sexual misconduct allegations as it has been for playing football games. But hey, three Super Bowl wins with three different quarterbacks in nine years right? The most recent of those titles was won when people bought cassette tapes, records, and CDs of their favorite musical artist — MC Hammer.
There is no franchise in professional sports that needs to divorce itself faster from its past than Washington, especially as the United States Congress is looking into whether or not the franchise attempted to silence a woman who was paid a $1.6 million settlement when she accused owner Daniel Snyder of sexual assault in 2009.
Once this franchise takes care of all of its legal issues, it needs not only a new team name and logo, but new colors, a new stadium, a new owner, a new headquarters, an exorcist, and Kyrie Irving to sage every inch of property it owns. The only thing Washington needs to keep from its past is those three Super Bowls trophies and a life size picture of Doug Williams with a statement above it that reads: Yeah we’ve been racist but we also had the only Black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl for nearly half a century, so screw you!
Everything else from that organization needs to be jettisoned with great force into the Chesapeake Bay and that includes Snyder, on a yacht, banished from ever returning to the Washington Metro Area.
That “play like a champion today” sign that Notre Dame has in its stadium, Washington needs to put up a different sign at FedEX, its practice facility, and office buildings: Please don’t embarrass us today.