renaming the washington redskins

Rebranding the Washington Redskins

We received an inquiry from the Washington Business Journal last week to offer up a new name for the Washington Redskins. I penned this article with some editing help from my colleagues Dennis & Christy, and here’s the article on the WBJ:

The full piece is as follows:

In these times of nearly unprecedented social upheaval, I believe the Washington Redskins have a unique opportunity to rethink not just their brand identity, but also how we as Americans view and passionately support our professional sports teams. Rather than wrestling with finding “yet another way to represent a culture that wishes not to be represented,” the team’s owners should consider how Washington, D.C., can truly rise up as an inspiration to our nation: How are we, as imperfect beings, doing our best to forge new paths forward in our experiment in self-governance? How are we building bridges to tolerance and understanding, while still finding time to set aside our differences and sit alongside our fellow citizens each Sunday and cheer as one beautiful, diverse, multi-cultural family?

I would rename the team “Washington Liberty” to remind us of our storied past, confront daily our missteps and the hard lessons we continue to learn, while inspiring ourselves and our opponents to raise their heads and look toward building a better future. I wish that every utterance of the team name would give one pause, so that we might ask ourselves, “What do these words mean to me today? How can I change my thoughts and actions to ensure every citizen actually HAS these liberties we espouse?” It is past time to move beyond merely putting a “Redskin” (or, if we’re going retro, spears) on the side of a helmet. I wonder aloud, “Does such iconography truly intimidate a 320-pound lineman anyway? Would opponents not be more intimidated by the power of more than 200 years of grit and determination bristling inside each jersey?”

How might we as fans rally behind this new brand and support our team as we do our nation, knowing that each week we will share moments of glory, we will make terrible mistakes, perhaps we win, perhaps we lose. Yet in every contest, we commit ourselves fully to leaving it all on the field, reveling in our victories and acknowledging our failures as a team, as fans and as Americans. That to my mind is a brand that every person across this land could get behind.