Washington Football

Washington Football

For decades, the Washington Redskins moniker has been a topic of controversy, and earlier this week, the debate over the name 'Redskins' became a national storyline once again. 

On Wednesday, a report surfaced that investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion have asked Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationships with the Washington Redskins unless the team agrees to change its name. Additionally, another report surfaced that the Redskins will not be permitted to use the old RFK Stadium site to build a new stadium unless the team changes its name.

In an interview with Richard Graves of Sky Sports News, former Redskins running back and current NBC Sports Washington analyst Brian Mitchell said that Washington changing its name is only a matter of time.

"Eventually, the way things seem to be rolling now, it's inevitable," Mitchell said.

Mitchell believes the push for the team to change the name has never been bigger than it is now.

"But right now, this thing seems to be snowballing, and it's going to be something that you really, really have to think about," Mitchell said. "When you look at a lot of different things that are happening and transpired, right now, it seems to be the most fresh I've ever seen. And every time that it happens again, it gets to be more, and more, and more. Eventually, you look at the amount of investors, and these people are speaking out trying to get it done, I don't think many people in a business world can function if all of those people start pulling away."

 

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The current movement for the team to change its name comes at a time of current civil unrest and the fight for social justice in America. Following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, protestors have marched across the country, demanding racial equality and social justice.

Mitchell said that if the name 'Redskins' is offensive to anyone, he believes the name should be changed.

"When I look at that word, I don't understand how people sit there and try to come up with all of these polls that I keep hearing about," Mitchell said. "I don't believe that the Indian population, the Native American population has truly represented in those polls. So many of us, people of other cultures, other races try to speak for them. I think it's time for them to speak for themselves. If that's a problem, just like the n-word, when it comes down to me as an African American. If 10 percent think it's bad, then it's bad."

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Mitchell cited the recent example of how the SEC influenced the state of Mississippi to remove the confederate flag symbol from the state flag as a way to show how public pressure can enact change on something that's wrong in society.

"I look also where the SEC put pressure on the state of Mississippi to take the confederate flag off of the state flag," Mitchell said. "That's happening. So if all of those things that have historically been there are starting to happen, I believe that this is going to happen eventually."

Additionally, Mitchell believes there's a generational gap in the debate over the name 'Redskins,' citing an example of when former Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen publicly supported Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The manager's actions caused plenty of mixed reactions in Miami, a heavily-Cuban area.

"I liken it to when Ozzie Guillen was sitting there praising Fidel Castro and the younger Cuban people in Miami had no issue with it," Mitchell said. "The older people understood the plight and the fight. They had a problem and they acted upon that."

The franchise's leader in all-purpose yards said that he feels now would be a great time for the team to change the name, as the organization would have the opportunity to get out "ahead of it."

"I think this is the time you do it and get ahead of it," Mitchell said. "Don't make it seem like you were forced. Get ahead of it, and think about it like 'Listen, I've sat, I've thought, and I think it's time.'"

 

As for what he thinks will need to happen for Washington to ultimately change its name?

"I've always said from the beginning that it's going to take some people sitting down and having a serious conversation without having their mind already set. I think that's what's been going on over the years," Mitchell said. "It's getting to a point in this country and around the world where certain names and certain things are now becoming taboo. When we think back 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, there are words that people used that no longer can be used."

One final point Mitchell made was a counter-argument to the arguments from fans who are very adamant about keeping the name.

"The thing for me is this. I love the team," Mitchell said. "I know people go up there and say 'I love the team, it's all I've ever known.' But my question is, do you cheer for the actual name? Or do you cheer for the concept and the people? I think that's the whole thing about it. If you still have a name here that is going to represent this area, still have that same type of pride that you are representing, then you'll still go for that."

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Additionally, Mitchell stressed that fans own throwback jerseys and have plenty of memories that they can look back on and cherish. But, as Mitchell said, times change, and he believes there's a lot more to gain than lose by changing the name.

"When I look at the financial and lucrative gains that you could have if it were to happen, how can it really hurt?" he said.

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