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June 22, 2014
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Publisher’s Notebook: Clueless owner fumbles, but feds shouldn’t pile on

Good afternoon, sports fans.

Wonder Bread, the official white bread for the Washington Honkies, brings you today’s championship game between your Honkies and the Dallas Cowboys.

I know. That’s totally inappropriate.

It’s also why Washington’s professional football team should no longer be called the Redskins. It’s not 1932 anymore, and it’s time to move on.

Team owner Daniel Snyder seems to be a stubborn, rich guy willing to fight for whatever principles he has, which don’t seem to be many.

Having said that, I’m not sure the debate belongs in the hands of the federal government, or its patent office.

If you’ve been following events in Iraq, or maybe season 7 of “Mad Men” and not the National Football League and the debate over a team name, here’s the short version:

Many believe the Washington Redskins — a team that has played more than 1,000 games since 1932 — should be called something other than Redskins for the same reason we no longer refer to blacks as negroes, or Japanese as Japs, or Italians as wops, or Mexicans as wetbacks.

In other words, it’s not that complicated.

Snyder doesn’t want to be told what to call his team and says there are a lot of people who like the name of his team because they’ve had a relationship with his team dating back to 1932.

Never mind that in 1932 they were hanging blacks in the South and getting away with it.

Unable to force Snyder to change the name of his team, someone persuaded the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the six Redskins trademarks because they were disparaging Native Americans.

The hope is that Snyder will lose a lot of money because anyone will be able to use his Redskins’ logo on T-shirts and bumper stickers without paying him. That issue will likely get tied up in court for a bit because Snyder has as many lawyers as character flaws.

And before you go screaming, “What about our own Roseburg Indians? Why shouldn’t they change their name?” stop for a second.

“Redskins” and “Indians” do not have the same ring. One refers to pigmentation and the other doesn’t.

Besides, what matters is what Native Americans think about the term “Redskins,” and I’m guessing it makes them wince. The only people I heard complain about a high school mascot called the Indians were palefaces from Portland, and they don’t count.

I should note here that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hasn’t really been picky when handing out patents or trademarks over the years. There’s a patent on a beer umbrella designed to keep the sun off your suds and there are 36 patents and counting for nose pickers.

I’ll go out on a limb and guess there must be at least 1,000 trademarks that could be considered offensive to some person or group of persons in a world where it’s really easy to be offensive.

The best way to get Snyder’s attention is through his own employees and fans. The players’ union should file a grievance and the fans should stop attending and watching games until Snyder gets the message.

Plenty of teams have changed their names for a lot less egregious reasons. In fact, when the team was formed in Boston in 1932, it was called the Boston Braves and shared a field with the baseball team by the same name. Then the team moved to Fenway Park and changed its name to the Boston Redskins, while the baseball team became the Red Sox.

They would move again five years later to Washington, D.C., and share a stadium with the Washington Senators, a name that may be just as offensive today as Redskins.

It’s not as if Washington couldn’t do better than Redskins. Animals and birds populate most of the National Football League today. There are Dolphins, Jaguars, Seahawks, Lions, Falcons, Eagles, Rams, Ravens, Panthers, Bengals, Colts and Cardinals.

Mankind has its 49ers, Packers, Bills, Steelers, Texans, Patriots, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys. I have no idea what a Charger is, but it doesn’t matter because they don’t win much.

Then there are the Cleveland Browns.

A guy named Paul Brown ran the team in 1945 and decided to have a contest to name the team, offering a $1,000 war bond to the winner. A committee selected Panthers, but Brown didn’t like it much and changed it to the Browns. He said it was because he like the “Brown Bomber,” a nickname for boxing great Joe Louis.

So the possibilities are endless. I’ll make it easy for them. Here are 10 suggested names for Washington’s professional football team:

1. Washington Porkers (Cowboys put Porkers in barrel)

2. Washington Polls (Polls pounded!).

3. Washington Wasters (Wasters let one slip away)

4. Washington Wafflers

5. Washington Sleepers

6. Washington Taxers (Patriots crush Taxers)

7. Washington Warthogs

8. Washington Whalers

9. Washington Pundits (Pundits blame Congress for loss)

10. Washington Lawyers (Lawyers lose; sue Seahawks)

• News-Review Publisher Jeff Ackerman can be reached at 541-957-4263 or jackerman@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Jun 26, 2014 07:13PM Published Jun 30, 2014 11:30AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.