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'I'm not ashamed of it': Fans with Redskins tattoos address what they'll do if team's name changes

'I'm not ashamed of it': Fans with Redskins tattoos address what they'll do if team's name changes

When Jermaine Johnson and his wife walked into a tattoo shop in the Poconos during their honeymoon back in 2007, the Northwest Washington native didn't have to think long about what he wanted inked on his body.

While Johnson's better half settled on a butterfly, he opted to go with the Redskins logo, which he had stamped on the inside of his right forearm. For someone who grew up in a house that hosted numerous watch parties during the Burgundy and Gold's glory years, it was the perfect way to honor such a crucial part of his upbringing.

13 years later, though, Johnson's choice has turned into much more than that.

As the Redskins review whether they should keep their name — and as most feel like a switch to something more widely-accepted is inevitable —  Johnson and plenty of other fans of the franchise who decided to display that fandom through permanent body art are left to decide how to proceed.

Are their tattoos something they, too, should adjust? Or are they instead worth showing off now more than ever, something that won't go away even as merchandise and references to the Redskins do?

Johnson, for one, is somewhere in the middle, planning to do the latter but ready to deal with the former if needed.

“I don’t think I’m going to cover it up," Johnson told NBC Sports Washington. "I think I’m going to view it just as a permanent tattoo, where it’s going to be a memory of the good times and the Super Bowls and the players and Joe Gibbs. If it gets to the point where it becomes an issue, and someone actually walks up to me and tells me, ‘Yeah, I see you wearing that tattoo, I’m offended by it, I’m a Native American,’ that would probably resonate."

Matt Boiseau, who's maintained his dedication to the Redskins despite living in Phoenix, had the organization's logo etched on his left calf after they went 3-13 in 2013 (no better time to commit to a squad than after they bottom out, right?).

Like Johnson, Boiseau wants to be "respectful" moving forward, especially if the Redskins become known as something else. He's just worried that others may not personally understand that when they come across what's on his leg.

"I saw on Twitter people talking about if this is the new Confederate flag," Boiseau said, adding that it's "offputting" to him that people could view his tat in that way. "I think it’s just a symbol of pride."

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Don Luther certainly has pride in the tattoo that's been on his arm for 20 years. Luther — who believes "Sellouts" would be an appropriate title in a post-Redskins world — sounded far less interested in the thought of altering how he looks to appease a stranger when compared to Johnson and Boiseau. 

"Hell no," he said, explaining how he believes it'll continue to represent the history of the team he's invested "thousands and thousands" of dollars into. "I'm not ashamed of it."

Suzie Lewis, who couldn't resist having the retro 'R' placed on her wrist in 2015 when taking her daughter in for her own work, took a stance similar to Luther's.

"Someone told me last week that my wrist may become a 'collector's item,'" Lewis said. "Ever since the day I got it five years ago, people have always asked, 'What happens if the name changes?' My response has always been, 'Then I’ll have a piece of history on my body.'"

Jeff Rinehart's tattoo is by far the newest of this bunch. The season ticket holder had been wanting one for quite a while, but the pandemic shifted his timing.

RELATED: WILL NAME CHANGE DECREASE REDSKINS' VALUE? ONE EXPERT SAYS NO

Finally, however, he felt safe enough to "pull the trigger" on a large HTTR design for his bicep — and had it started just as the name controversy exploded last week.

Regardless of the unfortunate coincidence, Rinehart still envisions adding many more beyond the inaugural HTTR. To him, he's just continuing to show adoration for the team that his father introduced him to and nothing more. 

"I was raised to love and treat people with respect no matter what race, religion, sexuality they are," Rinehart said. "If you truly know me, you’ll know my heart is always in a good place."

The final question for this group is whether they'll be willing to pay homage to the Washington _____s whenever their next moniker becomes official. Their responses varied: a few wanted to be patient, while others were more dismissive of the idea.

And then there's Boiseau, who's already preparing the open territory on his other leg for the Redskins' next iteration.

"It's an out with the old, in with the new kind of thing," Boiseau said. "I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be a Redskins fan, or whatever fan, for the rest of my life."

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Making a case for Red Wolves as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Red Wolves as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Red Wolves.

Case for: Red Wolves

The previous story in this series made the case for why a DC-themed name would be the best option for the Washington Football Team. One of the reasons marketing professionals said it would be a good idea is because teams that have a name connected to their city have stronger brand equity. So, it’s easy to see how those same experts weren’t as thrilled about names without a deep connection to Washington, like Red Wolves.

However, the marketing professionals weren’t against the idea that Red Wolves could work. And a big part of that has to do with the very reasons former Washington cornerback and unofficial leader of the Red Wolves movement Fred Smoot brought up.

“I can just see FedEx Field and the 80,000 people just howling like Wolves. That would really be something," Smoot told NBC Sports Washington last month.

That very atmosphere described by Smoot is why the name could be a good option. While a good name contributes to strong brand equity, it isn’t the only factor, according to Tim Derdenger, associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. The fan engagement opportunities with that brand is also important, and those opportunities definitely exist with Red Wolves.

RELATED: 5 NEW AND IMPRESSIVE FAN-GENERATED RED WOLVES LOGO AND UNIFORM DESIGNS

“Absolutely, that’s certainly a dimension that you’re concerned about is what environment, what atmosphere, what engagement can you get from the fans when we can go back to these games, hopefully sooner rather than later,” Derdenger said. “And so what is that experience like? If you have really good fan experience, that is going to elevate brand equity and in the end make the organization more valuable.

“I think [Red Wolves] lends itself to a pretty interesting and maybe amazing fan experience with maybe the howling and everything.”

A good amount of fans are already fond of the Red Wolves name. It was a runaway favorite in a poll conducted by NBC Sports Washington, which also included Red Tails, Warriors and Red Hawks.

 

The poll didn’t include ‘other’ as an option, so it’s possible fans just chose the best of the names provided, but they aren’t alone in favoring the name. Harry Poole, VP of client services at RedPeg Marketing, also named Red Wolves among his favorites, along with Red Tails and Warriors.

“Each of these names has a story that can be told, rolls off the tongue and gives a nod to themes that represent the franchise -- strength, power, fight, courage, tradition and heroes,” Poole said.

He agrees that the team’s rebrand is about more than the name, but as the team undergoes the process, he thinks the name change can work in conjunction with an improving team on the field to create a better fan experience.

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“When the product on the field is strong, it makes the business side of things a lot easier as it relates to sales, marketing and community relations,” Poole said. “If I were selling tickets, merchandise, sponsorships or creating the gameday experience, I would be thrilled about the opportunity this presents for each of those functions.

“This is a momentous decision for the franchise, and it will impact every facet of their business. It needs to be treated as more than a creative project to identify a new moniker and logo, but instead, an exercise to reshape the entire fan experience.”

RELATED: TEMPORARY NAME CHANGE A POSITIVE STEP FOR THE RED WOLVES MOVEMENT

If Washington were to go with Red Wolves, it would only be the first step of a rebrand that would need to include creating the experiences described above, but also defining what the team’s culture will be and what the brand represents going forward. In attempting to do that, RedPeg Marketing CEO Brad Nierenberg thinks Red Wolves is a name “you can run with.”

“A name is an important starting point, but it’s all about what is the pieces of the puzzle, what you build around it,” Nierenberg said. “It’s about what culture you create, what is the brand known for. And I think that it’s interesting, I think the Redskins have an incredible opportunity to start a new narrative. They really do. There’s definitely a silver lining that you can take from this. And I think they have an opportunity, and to create a new narrative about the brand, and they’ll always go, this is the new brand.”

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Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Derrius Guice's representation has released a statement that says the Washington Football Team running back "adamantly denies" the charges that he was arrested for on Friday

Guice turned himself into the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office facing one count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery, and one count destruction of property.

The following statement from Peter Greenspun was obtained by Ben Standig of The Athletic. 

"Mr. Guice will not be commenting on these charges, which he adamantly denies. We ask that the media respect Mr. Guice's privacy," the statement read. 

"Unfortunately, the investigators did not seek a statement or any input for Derrius before the warrants were issued. The failure to fully investigate allegations of events, which allegedly took place months ago is inexplicable."

Greenspun, who has a historic career and most notably was a defense attorney in the 'D.C. Sniper trial,' called the charges of his client "unsubstantiated." He also called out the football franchise for releasing Guice prematurely without inquiring about the investigation. 

"... a full vetting of the allegations will take place, in contrast to actions by local law enforcement and the Washington Football Team that assumed the worst, directly contradicting every sense of fairness and due process," the statement concluded.

The Washington Football Team released Guice less than an hour after his arrest became public. The move came through as a part of the culture Ron Rivera has vowed to instill during his first few months as head coach. This is also not the first time Guice has faced issues for off-the-field behavior. He fell to the team back in the 2018 draft due to issues he had while with LSU.

In his short tenure, Rivera has dealt with a tumultuous series of issues arising from the franchise including current and former players facing other serious allegations, a monumental name change, and serious allegations of the culture within the team's executives.

Despite injuries mounting in two years for the 23-year-old back, it was expected that Guice would become the leading rusher in the backfield this season. Still, he had yet to prove to be a consistent contributor with only 42 carries for 245 yards and two touchdowns entering his third season.

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