After many months of protests and backlash, the Washington Redskins finally changed their name to something less offensive.
But now, a Native American Group is demanding the old name be reinstated.
With many disliking the change.
Football and social change are intrinsically linked.
The sport has now been politicized because one man used his platform to make a statement and it has finally implemented change.
Kaepernick, born in Milwaukee in 1987, is a former quarterback-turned-activist who is known for his political activism regarding systematic racism against African-Americans.
In 2016, during the 49ers third preseason game, Kaepernick began kneeling during the US national anthem prior to games, rather than standing as is customary.
Speaking in an interview in 2016, Kaepernick said:
“To me, this is something that has to change, and when there’s a significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
Kaepernick later said that he “couldn’t show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He opted for kneeling over sitting, however, as a sign of respect for the men and women who fight for the United States.
His teammate, Eric Reid, soon began to kneel beside him, alongside other teammates such as Antoine Bethea, Eli Harold, Jaquiski Tartt, and Rashard Robinson.
Initially, the NFL released a statement claiming that players were only encouraged, and not required, to stand during the national anthem.
But, in 2017, Kaepernick became a free agent. No team would offer him a contract, and, in October of that year, he filed a grievance against the league, accusing team owners of colluding to keep him signed.
After Kaepernick’s attorney stated that “athletes who protest peacefully should not be punished”, public backlash mounted until team owners declared that all team personnel on the field must “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”
If any team members where caught kneeling during the anthem, the team would be fined and the decision would be upon the team leader whether or not they punish that particular player.
This did not sit well with the players, nor did it with the rest of America.
After Donald Trump said that athletes who kneeled during the national anthem were disrespecting the U.S. and its patriotic symbols, the hashtags #TakeAKnee and #TaketheKnee began trending.
Musician John Legend penned his own op-ed for Slate, titled “The NFL Protests Are Patriotic.”
In his piece, Legend called out Trump for suppressing voter rights and talked about important protests in history.
Then came a big announcement.
Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, announced that the team will undergo a name change after they had received a wave of criticism in the past few weeks.
It was part of a wider political climate.
And the Black Lives Matter movement has been protested and demanded all around the world.
The name was set to be changed.
“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”
“This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”
Big name brands such as Nike have removed all of their merch from the website.
It was huge news.
The team would no longer go by The Washington Redskins, or use the logo associated with that name.
But it seems that they ran into some major issues before this change.
A man named Martin McCaulay has trademarked over forty potential new names including the likes of “Red Tails,” “Warriors,” and “Red Wolves.”
The sixty-one-year-old picked up several other potential options, seeing him file forty-four claims related to potential Washington team names.
McCaulay also sells merchandise of the names he’s squatting in order to strengthen his case in court.
For those who don’t know, United States law requires that the holder of a trademark actually use the term they’ve claimed.
“A squatter reserves a name with no intention to use it,” McCaulay explained.
“I went to the extreme of buying a lot of merchandise, making it my brand, and selling it.”
The team was to be known as the “Washington Football Team.” But here’s the thing, this was the “middle name” until they officially decide what they want to change the name and brand to.
It does seem like a “troll” name – but it’s better than a racist name.
The name was eventually changed to the Washington Commanders.
But that was far from the end of the story …
As the Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA) is demanding the Washington Commanders change their name back to the Redskins
The group has started a petition that has gained more than 90,000 signatures.
“We invite all Americans to stand up for the dignity of EVERY AMERICAN under assault in today’s increasingly nonsensical culture wars,” the petition says.
“This ‘LINE IN THE SAND’ moment reinforces undeniable history of the NATIVE AMERICAN assisting the FOUNDING OF AMERICA, with NATIVE AMERICAN principles used by the FOUNDING FATHERS in the US Constitution – and, EVERY AMERICAN’s right to the 1st and 14th Amendment and not to be targets of cancel culture or ESG.”
“This is not a simple left or right issue for Americans; it reaches across the political spectrum dating back to our Founding Fathers.”
“As the NFL franchise representing the nation’s capital, you have a distinct opportunity to recognize the history and value of the American Indian,” the petition concludes.
What do you think?