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Column: This Spud’s For You

There’s more talk now than ever before, about the possibility of the Washington, D.C. professional football team changing its name. The current name, which resonates to those of us who care about such things, has been front and center and generally accepted for over 80 years, since 1932 in fact. After so many years in the League and five NFL Championships to their credit, to say the current ownership and its rabid and loyal fan base are attached to the team’s name is hardly newsworthy. However, cultural changes in our country and politically correct sensitivities have merged of late and the name we’ve mostly grown to respect and admire has come under some scrutiny and as a result, certain Indian Nations, most recently The Oneida Nation, have expressed their dismay at what they perceive to be the continuing use of a racial slur by this franchise; in effect, a name that demeans and is totally inappropriate and no longer tolerable in 21st century America.

I am certainly not one to pass judgment on such characterizations and hot-button issues of the day, so I won’t (I’m mostly cancer-centric these days). But I would like propose a name-compromise of sorts. Why not change the name to The Washington Redskin Potatoes? This name would blend together the good (the familiar), minimize the bad (the insensitive) and enable the team, its ownership and fan base to sort of have its name and not suffer any separation anxiety because of it. Even better, "Let’s Go Skins" still works, too. It would henceforth refer to a potato, however, rather than a People. Hopefully, there are no potato interests in Maine or Idaho that would object to introducing its starchiness into the National Football League.

Let’s face it; who doesn’t like potatoes at the ballpark? Or anywhere for that matter; even me, and I’m the fussiest eater this side of Mikey, the kid from the old Life Cereal commercials who was famously stubborn about his breakfast-food choices. I’m not exactly sure what the mascot would look like; probably not a Mr. Potato Head-type look-alike, but neither do I envision seeing an Indian headdress on a potato either. Of course, I doubt I’ll be entrusted to lead up the marketing campaign for such an important and historic transformation. After all, I’m only a writer attempting to sow some seeds of humor – and perhaps a little discontent, while trying to find a middle ground that potentially keeps the home fires burning (or is that home fries cooking?) without offending a proud people fighting for their ancestral respect – both in the past and in the present/future.

Momentum to keep the name does not seem to be building. Nevertheless, the status quo may yet win the day. Still, The National Football League, despite its reach from coast to coast and possibly even from continent to continent (as there’s continuing talk about franchises in London and Japan; note the in-season contests scheduled presently for this year and next) is still just a game, a game with a 12 billion dollar revenue stream, but a game nonetheless. The Oneida Nation is a people. People matter more than games. And feelings matter most of all, and failings, too. To not consider their feelings would be a failure. And failure is definitely not a trait any of us want to associate with the new Washington Redskin Potatoes.