When the Washington Redskins had their trademark protection cancelled it started an inexorable clock (albeit, probably a long one) on the procession toward a formal name change. That is something that Redskins owner Dan Snyder has fought long and hard against, increasingly in acrominious public forums. If, as now expected, he eventually does have to change his team’s name, the personal battle royale to preserve a name universally recognized as offensive by Native Americans will only set back his organization.
It all could have been so much easier. If only Snyder had picked up the phone and called some high school ADs and coaches who were going through the same name-change process.
With the Redskins name-change top of the news, the Miami Herald reached out to Cardinal Gibbons athletic director and football coach Mike Morrill, who oversaw the school’s shift from competing as the Redskins to the Chiefs. While the Chiefs moniker wouldn’t work for Snyder’s Redskins, there are plenty of other similar options with Native American overtones, including “Braves” and “Warriors,” neither of which have overtly negative or racist overtones like “Redskins.”
Morill led the Redskins-Chiefs transition in 2006, a time when he said the school was confident that the time was right for a change. He didn’t have any misconception that the shift would be easy, but he was optimistic it could be completed without incident.
“We had discussed it for years and just thought the time was right,” Morrill told the Herald. “It came down to, if we were offending anybody, or even worse a group of people, then why wouldn’t we change it? The Chiefs moniker kind of struck with the mold of honoring Native Americans but not offending anybody. The kids are proud Chiefs now and love yelling it.”
Those are strong words from a football leader. Perhaps Snyder should take note.