It’s official. The Washington Redskins are no more. After years of evasion and temporizing, Dan Snyder’s D.C. football team has abandoned the racial slur they’ve used as their team mascot for the last, oh, century or so.
A global pandemic is raging, a societal reckoning is at hand, and there’s a rather important election coming up this fall. But with the pain and shame of football’s dumbest team name somewhat behind us, we can at least contemplate a little fun. The team needs a new name, and there will be no shortage of opinion on the matter. A contest for the best new name, perhaps even an online vote, may be in the offing, like the one that garnered overwhelming support for naming an autonomous underwater vessel owned by the British Antarctic Survey, “Boaty McBoatface.”
Hard to top, or bottom, that. But we’re Americans, and we can try. The Washington football team is rife with possibilities. It may not be “America’s Team” (that’s reserved to a face-lifted mogul’s club in, of all places, Arlington, Texas), but it’s the team in America’s capital, so we may as well get it right.
Jason Gay, sports writer for the Wall Street Journal, has long called the team “Dan Snyder’s Sadness Machine,” and not just out of a reluctance to repeat a racial slur. “The Washington Sadness” would be a really cool name, and strike existential dread into the hearts of opponents, at least maybe in the NFC East.
Other, more D.C.-centric monikers are also tempting. The Washington Deep States. The Washington Lobbyists. The Washington Monuments. The Washington Hypocrites. The Washington Capitals. No wait, that’s taken. As are the Patriots, thank goodness. Maybe the Washington Maulers (get it?).
Please, please, no animal names. No Washington Cougars or Washington Vipers. Too impersonal. Inhuman, even. Thank goodness, again, that the Eagles are taken.
Something designed to appeal to the underserved female fan base might be in order, like the Washington Cherry Blossoms or the Washington Suffragists. But Dan Snyder doesn’t seem to have that sort of self-confidence.
If he did, he could go completely woke and of-the-moment with something like the Washington Kneelers, the Washington Reparations, or even the Washington Kaepernicks. That’s one way to finally get him back into the NFL.
But when push comes to shove (as it always does in football), you probably want something a little less provocative, something with some non-racist nostalgia about it, something that might appeal equally to Donald Trump and AOC.
That’s why I’m suggesting — no, demanding — that D.C.’s football team rename itself — wait for it — the Washington Swamp Things.
As some of you know, Swamp Thing was a DC Comics (appropriately enough) character popular in the Seventies and Eighties who appeared to be a walking mound of decomposed vegetation and lived in, well, a swamp, like the one Washington was built on and some say still is. Depending on who was writing the comic, he was either a man who’d been transformed into a monster (which Trump could identify with) or a manifestation of the earth’s rebellion against humankind’s pollution of the environment (which AOC would like), but none of that really matters. He was big and green and scary, sort of like the Hulk without the vocabulary or the purple shorts, and he’d be a perfect mascot, both on the field and in the merchandising. Any political subtext about swamps and drainage is purely secondary.
Just imagine: the uniforms would be a slimy green (none of that prissy Dolphin teal), the cheerleaders would wear Spanish moss (if little else), and Swamp Thing’s face (if you can call it that) would be emblazoned on the players’ helmets. The kids would love it, as would I.
Go Things! It’s no Boaty McBoatface, but it’s close.