Letter: Hail To The (Red? Black? White? Other?)Skins

Letter: Hail To The (Red? Black? White? Other?)Skins

— Isn’t it past time that Daniel Snyder, the owner of Washington’s National Football League franchise, realized that a serious curse has been put on his team? Every Sunday during the football season, far away from Washington, D.C. — standing in solitude on a bluff high above the Mississippi River — a noble medicine man of the Lakota Sioux, with a Dallas Cowboys jersey draped over his buckskin shirt and trousers, chants imprecations that invariably spell ruin for Snyder and his minions: handoffs are fumbled, forward passes are misdirected, reluctant tacklers whiff at ballcarriers, and vast sums of money are squandered on players who have been rejected by other teams in the league. Does Snyder have a clue as to why this is happening?

As it happens, this Sioux medicine man, the Redskins’ nemesis, is possessed of very acute hearing: whenever he hears the strains of “Hail To the Redskins” emanating from a football stadium and drifting across the continent to his reservation, he ascends the bluff and repeats his curse. The result has been 15 years of football futility for the Washington Redskins and deepening “buyers’ remorse” among its legion of fans. The medicine man will be mollified, and the curse lifted, only when Snyder decides that “Redskins” is not, after all, an appropriate name for the team.

Many reasonable people — even diehard Redskins fans — have urged Snyder to choose an alternative name for the team. The majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, recently offered his opinion: “You can’t denigrate a race of people … I mean, you can’t have the ‘Washington Blackskins’…” (Reid evidently has a sense of irony. Only in 1962, many years after all the other teams in the NFL had integrated their rosters, did the Washington team acquire its first black player; until then they were, effectively, the Washington Whiteskins.)

Snyder’s response to Reid was, “We strongly disagree … based on the generations of pride and heritage that our name represents.” What generations? Whose heritage? Snyder’s words are meant to be enigmatic, no doubt, but he does seem genuinely concerned about the team’s place in NFL history, about the lyrics of the team’s popular fight song and, not least of all, about his own financial stake in the franchise. While the team has faltered badly during Snyder’s tenure, he has been quite successful and relentless in his monetization of the franchise.

So let me suggest an alternative name for the team that should satisfy everyone’s concerns — a name that will not be offensive to any ethnic group, that will recall glorious days of yore on the gridiron, that will preserve the cadence of the team’s fight song, and that will pay proper homage to the team’s management. Let us all, henceforward, join in singing, with enthusiasm, “Hail to the PIGSKINS! Hail VIC-TO-RY!” Go PIGSKINS!

Elliot Wilner, Potomac