Washington’s appearance on Monday Night Football tonight reminds me that I have yet to offer in this space my solution to their nickname controversy.
Mine is a solution so simple and obvious that it’s hard to believe it hasn’t already been implemented. To wit: Washington keeps the name “Redskins” but changes their mascot to a potato.
No, really–I’m serious.
First, I should state the fundamentals: the official position of the DFR is that mascots, as a general rule, are not intended to be offensive, regardless of the trappings that may happen to go on around them. In other words, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ll consider “Indians,” “Braves,” and/or “Chiefs” a slur the moment I see a big, burly yellow-haired guy picketing the Minnesota Vikings.
“Redskins,” however, is different–a term so obviously derogatory that it stands as an absurdity that it has been allowed to linger for as long as it has. But that’s only a product of the Indian references; take away the Native American slant, and all you have is a word…that perfectly describes a popular variety of potato. A one-for-one swap of meaning seems like an obvious solution.
Naming a team after a tuber may at first seem like an odd choice, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Americans love potatoes; what better mascot for the team that represents the nation’s capital than the starch that appears in seemingly half of all our meals?
Plus, think of the commercial/marketing tie-ins that would be possible between the food industry and the redefined Washington Redskins: every place that sells fries would be a natural partner for the team. Concession stands at FedEx Field would certainly sell a ton of red skin potato french fries, most likely connected to some sponsorship with potato producers; some consortium from Maine, most likely, though the Idaho “famous potatoes” people might sneak in there, if they’re not too attached to their russets. And, of course, just picture all the little kids in their seats at the stadium, wearing their jerseys and holding tight to their “Riggo the Redskin” plush potato figure (named after former Redskins Hall of Fame legend John Riggins, of course). The merchandising sells itself.
Again, it’s such and obvious (and, most likely, money-making) move that it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t already happened. If Dan Snyder has any brains at all, he’ll embrace this change in a heartbeat.
Finally, there’s even a certain logic to relieving the affront to Native Americans by changing the mascot to the potato, which is itself a native plant of the Americas. (In the case of the potato, South America–specifically Peru–but, whatever, close enough.)
So there it is: a perfect solution to a fractious cultural problem. The DFR: healing racial divides since 2015. You’re welcome.