After years of stubbornly resisting a name change, corporate sponsors including Nike and FedEx may have finally forced the Washington Redskins’ hand. Shortly after FedEx, for which their stadium is named (FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland), publicly called for the team to change its name, Nike delivered another crushing blow by removing all Redskins merchandise from its online store. Amid a culture shift spurred by nationwide protests in support of Black Lives Matter and others affected by systemic racism, corporations have begun distancing themselves from the Redskins and their controversial nickname, perceived by many as a slur against Native Americans.
With pressure mounting on owner Dan Snyder to finally do the right thing and scrap the team’s longstanding moniker in place of something less offensive, fans on social media have begun to weigh in, brainstorming their favorite alternatives on Twitter. Not every name proposed will appeal to everyone, which is why it’s important to cast a wide net. But a few of the early suggestions have shown promise, including these five:
Honorable Mentions: I don’t think Jeannie Buss meant to suggest this as an actual possibility, but as a diehard fan of NBC's Community, rebranding the Redskins as the Washington Human Beings would be epic. Also, the Redskin Potatoes would never fly, but it’s a clever workaround if convenience is of the essence.
5. Washington Redhawks
Keeping red in the name is a no-brainer for branding purposes—it would allow the team to retain its signature red and yellow color scheme. However, the NFL is already pretty saturated with birds including the Ravens, Cardinals, Falcons and Eagles. Hawks are admittedly one of the more intimidating bird species, but with so many similarly named teams, not just in football but across the sports landscape (Atlanta Hawks, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, etc.), we might be at the point of diminishing returns.
4. Washington Warriors
Not the most original, but the best nicknames often aren’t. Though the Warriors name still alludes to Native Americans, it’s not an overt slur like Redskins and there’s already some precedent for its use in sports (the Golden State Warriors and pretty much every high school team that’s not named Wildcats or Spartans). It also has alliteration working for it. I personally wouldn’t mind if the team dropped Washington in favor of D.C. as other area squads have done including the city’s short-lived XFL franchise, the D.C. Defenders, but we can save that topic for another day.
3. Washington Pigskins
This would be a shrewd compromise, allowing the team to keep its “Skins” shorthand while also acknowledging Washington’s iconic “Hogs” era, which led to a trio of Super Bowls in the 80s and 90s. The hog/pig element raises some interesting logo possibilities as well while the name could also work as a double-entendre (footballs are sometimes referred to as “pigskins”).
2. Washington Redtails
Given what it symbolizes, the Redtails were the first group of African American aviators in the United States Armed Forces (as America’s capital, Washington is certainly appreciative of its military background), I think this would be a home run for a team looking to move on from its embarrassing past identity. After years of stubbornly defending a patently racist nickname, honoring black culture by embracing Redtails would serve as a peace offering of sorts. It certainly wouldn’t let Synder off the hook, but it would be a much-needed step in the right direction for a backwards organization in need of an image overhaul.
1. Washington Sentinels
“Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.” Keanu Reaves’ Shane Falco, quarterback of the Washington Sentinels in the 2000 film The Replacements, was a certified badass and inarguably one of the great movie athletes of all-time. I’m not sure what kind of copyright hoops the team would have to jump through to pull it off, but somebody please make this happen (prayer emoji).