Monday, October 14, 2013

What's In A Name?

I love football.  For six long years, I gave it up in protest.  Protest of both a quarterback and a coach, who I thought received far too many accolades for missing the coveted prize in the NFL:  The Superbowl.  I was ecstatic when the Eagles fired Andy Reid, and despite the team's less than stellar start this season, I firmly believe it was a decision that should have been made a long time ago.  

I love football.  I have a passionate dislike for several teams in the NFL.  Most of this is due to a conference rivalry that dates back to when the NFC East was the hardest division to play in.  The Dallas Cowgirls (oops...boys), the NY Giants, and the Washington Redskins.  You can't be an Eagles fan and not hate those teams.  It's just not allowed.

I love football.

What I don't love is smarmy commentators who decide to use their national airtime, during a sport that remains the most popular in the U.S., to score political points, or worse, to promote some trumped up charge of racial injustice.

The Washington Redskins.  If you aren't a football fan, it's just a name to you, and maybe you find it offensive, I don't know.  79% of all Americans don't, but maybe you're in the 21% who do.   I've honestly never even though about it, because to me, the Redskins are the team from Washington D.C., who have beaten the butts of my team more than once, and have more Superbowl Wins than we do in Philadelphia. (Ok, pretty much everyone has more Superbowl rings than we do, we haven't won any.)  

To listen to Bob Costas speak so eloquently you'd think that it's plainly obvious that the name, whether now, or sometime in the past, was specifically chosen to twist fingers in the eyes of Native Americans.  It's obviously a slur, even if it wasn't meant that way.  It's just not ok to name your team the Redskins.  Of course the players, the coaches and the owner don't men anything bad by it, but it's still horrible, evil, cruel.  (You can skip the part where he freely admits that a majority, as in 90%, of all Native Americans don't have a single issue with the name.) 

So, once again, Bob preaches to his immense television audience, telling them how they ought to think or feel about a certain issue. (Remember his gun control rant during Sunday night football last year?)  

Bob, this is football.  We do not need or want you to give us lessons in your political or social views on Sunday night.  We want to talk football:  the good, the bad, and the ugly of a game that involves men throwing, catching, kicking balls and tackling other men, all in the quest to get the pigskin past the goal line.  But you Bob, you just can't resist the urge to lecture us all on right and wrong.

So, now I get to lecture you on facts.  If you want to be some great commentator, do your homework.

The team in question, originally the Boston Braves, was created in 1932.  The year after that they became the Boston Redskins.  The first Redskins team had four Native Americans players, and a Native American head coach.  I'm sure if they found the name offensive they could have protested, but they didn't.  Their logo, that infamous Indian that we Philadelphia fans live to hate (for purely competitive reasons), was created in conjunction with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, which has it's base of operations on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  George Allen, then coach, worked with Native Americans on that logo, and was later honored by those same Native Americans.  All without a hint of protest over the name.  

You see Mister Costas, outside of your politically correct, there must be injustice, pathetic bubble, Native Americans are seen as fierce, brave, strong and loyal, all things you want in a top notch professional football team.  They are the kind of people you can get behind and cheer for.  They are inspiring.  And by denoting themselves the Redskins, they encompass the entire Native American population, not just the braves (who were the warriors), or a specific tribe (like the Blackhawks), or some caricature (like the Indians). One look at that logo, and you are looking at a proud, strong person.  One willing to fight for his brothers.  

It seems 79% of Americans, and 90% of Native Americans clearly understand what has somehow escaped your oh-so-enlightened mind.

Speaking as a life-long die-hard, even gave up football in protest, Philadelphia Eagles fan, how dare you even suggest that a team I look forward to watching my guys play each and every season, just so I can root again them, change their name?  I don't want to play the Washington Whatevers, I want my team to play the tradition of the Washington Redskins.  The name that's become associated with a division rivalry.  That to so many Redskins fans is associated with winning a Superbowl.  Somehow, Bob, you've managed to make me defend a team I live to hate. 

And you've also managed to do one other thing that was never, ever possible until you opened your big mouth on Sunday night, again.

You've made me root for the darn Redskins every time they play (unless they are playing the Eagles.)