Native American groups have long argued that both the name of the team and the main logo are racist, with support for a change increasing alongside the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd. The NFL side changed their social media handles on Thursday, switching to @WashingtonNFL, while redskins .com” was removed from the account's bio.
The new design, alongside the new name, will be present for the first time in Week 1 against divisional rivals Philadelphia Eagles. Washington Hogs: Some fans already wear pig noses to games to celebrate the nickname earned by the team’s offensive linemen during the Super Bowl-winning glory years of the 1970s and ’80s.
It wasn’t until sponsors, such as FedEx, Nike, Amazon and Target, pressured Snyder that it came to fruition. In recent weeks, trademarking guru Martin Macaulay applied for several potential names, Pro Football Talk reported.
The Washington professional football team, owned by Dan Snyder, recently announced that the Redskins nickname and logo will be retired as part of a thorough review by the club. With that news, sports books have released updated betting odds on potential new names for the franchise.
The team’s name allegedly perpetuating a racist stereotype of Native Americans has long been controversial as the 21st century woke revolution simmered under the surface of the nation’s culture wars in recent years. I disagree, as that simply results in one less opportunity for awareness building and American Indian community benefit.
The move comes as the NFL changes its tone on anti-American protests at its events, declaring last month that it now encouraged players to kneel during the national anthem. The football league also said this week it would be adding the black national anthem to its regular programming having it played before each game in addition to the Star Spangled Banner.
Could the Chicago Blackhawks be next? It took years for the Redskins to agree to retire their name and logo despite protests from Native Americans, but recent renewed pressure proved to be convincing. “As the blood would drain from people's faces, it would turn their skin red, hence the term,” explained Heather Miller, executive director at the American Indian Center of Chicago.
A written statement from the team last week read in part, “The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois' Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public.” Podcast's Trickster Cultural Center in Schaumburg has a Blackhawks exhibit where photographs of Native American Veterans being honored at games are featured.
While the Blackhawks are firm about not changing the name or logo, The American Indian Center of Chicago is teaming up with national organizations to continue to put the pressure on the Hawks. The team, which Portico reports was contemplating a name change even before sponsors threatened to cut ties, might propose something altogether different.
The team’s strategy on replacement branding is not entirely in the hands of owner Daniel Snyder. Several individuals have used the federal trademark process to make claims to names that might interest him.
Seven years earlier, Sudan Shown Hard and six others petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It reached a key moment in June 2014 when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (STAB) voted to cancel the marks.
It would be the start of more than 40 applications by Macaulay for marks that concern potential replacement names. An examining attorney for the PTO has favorably reviewed their application and, on June 23, published the mark for opposition.
He has retained noted sports and intellectual property attorney Darren Hater, who has represented Antonio Brown and other pro athletes in legal matters. “If we’re talking about one of Macaulay’s use-based applications, like his application to register Washington Retails for cups, wine glasses, & mugs, then we have to ask whether he uses Washington Retails as a trademark rather than just plastering it on the front of some mugs in a decorative way.
He’s also required to use the mark in interstate commerce, which means not just offering the products for sale but actually selling them.” She adds, “based on his website, it doesn’t look like he’s sold any mugs yet.” Even if the PTO finds his application acceptable, Roberts emphasizes that doesn’t necessarily preclude the Redskins from obtaining the mark.
To be clear, Macaulay publicly insists that he would turn over his marks, for free, if the team only asked. Pamela Dense, an intellectual property transactions attorney partner at Aren't Fox in Washington D.C., explains that there would be several vehicles through which the team could attempt to obtain a valid, registered mark from Macaulay or from others.
If Macaulay (as noted above) has registered marks rather than simply filed applications the team could attempt to acquire them through a license or assignment. “The team could hire a third party to negotiate a purchase of the registered trademark from Macaulay without disclosing their client,” Dense notes.
The team announces it will be known as the Washington Football Team” for the next season to give them time to do an in-depth “branding process” with players, alumni, fans and the entire football community. It’s going to be weird seeing the Washington Football Team without a mascot on their helmets and stadium.
In the 1870-’90s the term is clearly the go-to phrase in newspapers to describe Natives whenever something negative has happened, whether in news reports or fictional short stories. Again appealed, this time the ruling survived, but the decision was effectively turned over following a separate case regarding offensive trademarks by the Supreme Court in 2017.
“So much confusion has been caused by our football team wearing the same name as the National League baseball club that a change appeared to be absolutely necessary”, Marshall told the Associated Press at the time. Two weeks later Marshall discussed the name change again, this time-sharing some of the marketing ideas he has with the new name and his Native coach and players.
The National Congress of American Indians “demanded” the Redskins change their name way back in 1988. This was in reference to the recent revoking of the Super Bowl by Tagline from Phoenix after Arizona voters turned down a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.
The next fall there were Native American protests at the 1991 World Series which featured baseball’s Atlanta Braves. One protestor holding a sign which read “Indians are people” and “We deserve respect” was reportedly spat on and attacked by a Braves fan wearing a headdress during Game 5 of that ’91 series.
The following January, the Redskins made the Super Bowl, which again led to more Native American protests. Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, who was also the original owner of the Los Angeles Kings and gave the L.A. Lakers their famous (Forum Blue) purple-and-gold color scheme, said in 1992 that the name Redskins will not be changed.
Shortly after Super Bowl XXVI, the Portland Oregonian newspaper banned the use of Indians, Redskins, Redden, and Braves in its sports section. Not long after that, the Redskins hired a PR firm to launch a website defending the name of the team.
Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt used Native American support as his reason for not changing the name of his team back in the 1990s saying, “I can show you many, many letters from the Indian community that support . Two decades later, a Washington Post poll conducted in 2016 concluded that 90% of the 504 self-identified Native Americans asked were “not bothered” by the team using the nameRedskins.
While the numbers on that 2016 survey are high, there have certainly been numerous protests led by Native American leaders over the past 30+ years against the name not just at Redskins games but also against the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. “The fact that a football team in the nation’s capital could be named the Redskins in this day and age shows how pathetically ignorant this country is”, said Charlene Meters of the Spokane Indian nation to the Philadelphia Daily News in January 1992.
The origin of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish name is ultimately unknown. The most generally accepted explanation is that the press coined the nickname as a characterization of Notre Dame athletic teams, their never-say-die fighting spirit and the Irish qualities of grit, determination and tenacity.
The term likely began as an abusive expression tauntingly directed toward the athletes from the small, private, Catholic institution. Notre Dame alumnus Francis Wallace popularized it in his New York Daily News columns in the 1920s.
Wetzel led a fascinating life, in addition to the accomplishments above he “fought hard against policies that would terminate tribal governments”, “fought for employment, aid, and the development of tribes’ land and minerals” and also worked with U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I hope this post has helped answer some questions, I know I certainly learned quite a few things while researching this.