I didn’t grow up watching football. Sports – of any kind – weren’t real high on the list around my house. My freshman year in college, I worked at a department store over the Christmas holidays. One day, I was assigned to hand pens to a football player, who was there to sign autographs. To the horror of the fans lined up, I had no idea who Ken Houston was.
It was a few years later when I met my football-loving other half and started following the sport. And, naturally, I became a fan of the NFL team in Washington. (Primarily because there was little TV coverage of anyone else.) All these years later, I’m still a fan.
But I’m no longer a fan of the nickname. I’ve been uncomfortable with it for a while, referring to the team as the Skins rather than by its full nickname. Over the weekend, I ran across this article, which should be required reading for every fan of the Washington team. It convinced me that it is time for Washington to come up with something different.
I think I vaguely knew of George Preston Marshall, the former owner of the team, but not at the level of detail provided in the linked article. I certainly didn’t have any knowledge of his racist past. My early years becoming a football fan occurred in the Jack Kent Cooke era, and I never really researched how or why the team’s nickname came into being.
Given the legacy of Marshall, the Washington NFL team is way overdue to change its name. I particularly like the way that Michael Tomasky phrased it in his article:
He [current owner Dan Snyder] could say something like: “We all know that while George Preston Marshall did great things for this city and this franchise, his racial legacy is not something we can be proud of. The name Redskins is, alas, part of that legacy. I therefore have decided…”
I’m no fan of Snyder. But he’d move up a notch in my book if he did this.