After years of turning a blind eye to various pleas, Washington’s NFL franchise will “look into” changing its derogatory nickname: Redskins.
For years the idea of changing the nickname of an NFL franchise was considered a step too far by activists; almost like the PC police were getting too out of hand. I, for one, have been on board with the change — and not just to the Redskins franchise.
To me, it’s not just about the name being a derogatory slur for a Native American (one of my best friends is Native American, and he told me a few years ago it didn’t bother him). Instead, it’s about not needing it in the first place. Nicknames are cute and fun, and many have historical significance. But they are not needed.
Case in point: English Football (or soccer, to the majority of my fellow treasonous colonial Americans). Manchester United is nicknamed the Red Devils, but very few call them that outside of their own fandom. Wolverhampton seems like “Wolves” would be a solid nickname — but instead, the football club goes by “Wanderers.” Nicknames have little use across much of the world, as the franchise itself is name recognition enough.
But for the sake of continuity of American sports, let’s come up with some nicknames for teams that could very well have to change their tune over the next 5-10 years.
Washington Redskins (NFL)
What needs to change and when: Name, logo and now
The club was the last of the NFL teams to integrate Black players onto the roster, waiting until the 1960s to do so — nearly 20 years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier. I would say this club needs a makeover about as much as any (especially when you include the product played on the field over the past few decades.)
Both the nickname and the logo need to go ASAP.
While “Senators” could work as a new nickname, that was the baseball franchise for many decades, I would prefer that not be an option. How about: Colonials, Monuments, Georges or Lobbyists? Here’s a thought, how about the party in charge of the White House has the team nicknamed after them. Looking into a crystal ball, I find this introduction to a story after next season ends: “In 2020, the Washington Republicans went 4-12, but saw much improvement in 2021, as the now Washington Democrats improved to five wins.”
Cleveland Indians (MLB)
What needs to change and when: Name and now
Nicknamed since 1915, (also my co-favorite franchise), the club dumped their cartoon logo “Chief Wahoo” after last season. It was time, and I have been ready to move on for a while. The “Block C” is fine for a logo.
Ideas for a new nickname include a pair of oldies: Spiders, and Naps. Back in the 19th century, Cleveland’s big league club used Spiders, while the club went as the Naps for Napoleon Lajoie, its Hall of Fame player/manager in the early 20th century.
Other names based on its usefulness to the Great Lakes region could include the Cuyahogas, Ships or Freighters; and because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in town, Rockers has a chance to be a cool nickname — maybe with an electric guitar logo or a drum set with fire shooting out of the cymbals, which would also tie in the history of the Cuyahoga River, which was once so polluted it caught on fire.
Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
What needs to change and when: Name, soon; logo soon
Back in the 1920s, the new hockey team named itself after local Sauk nation figure, Black Hawk. Given the role that Black Hawk and the Sauk had in the stateline region, I’m not as ready to up and change the nickname and logo, but it should probably be changed.
My suggestion is to simply change it to Hawks, as it is already common nomenclature as an abbreviated nickname for the club. Maybe the logo gets rid of the Native American caricature and replaces it with just the feathers.
Atlanta Braves (MLB)
What needs to change and when: Logo not urgent; name, not urgent
The franchised traveled from Boston to Milwaukee over the years before settling down in Cobb County.
The biggest thing that should go is the Tomahawk Chop, a crowd-favorite cheer.
My first thought for a new nickname was Peaches, but I’d hate to take away the prominence of the former Rockford women’s baseball team. I feel Tomahawks could be a nickname, because it is an object, but maybe the franchise should just go another direction entirely, like the Humidity or Traffic Jams. Maybe just “Jams,” alluding to both the traffic and rap scene that gained prominence over the last two decades in the ATL.
Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)
What needs to change and when: Name, not urgent; logo, not urgent
Could they turn to the Chefs, like the Snickers commercial from more than a decade ago, or did Snickers copyright that tag?
Other options could be the Tornadoes/Twisters/Cyclones given the proximity to Tornado Alley.
My cousin Derek suggested “BBQ,” which is pretty clever.
What about the Missouris? Or Missourahs? Would Kansas City Plains work? If the team were not the defending Super Bowl champions and instead were stuck toiling in misery like the Cleveland Browns, I would suggest the KC Depressions, and the stadium could be changed from Arrowhead Stadium to the Dust Bowl.
Just a thought.
— Adam Krebs is a reporter for the Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.