The Washington Redskins have been the target of prickly commentary recently, not for anything related to football, but for their nickname, or mascot.
And no question, “Redskins” is offensive. It's so obvious, isn't it?
What isn't so obvious is the offensiveness of so many other NFL mascots.
Sometimes, it's the players who should be offended, sometimes the groups symbolized by the mascots, sometimes both. For example:
Does a player really want to be called a Patriot, what with the Orwellian Patriot Act, and right-wing radicals who insist on associating themselves with the Founding Fathers while linking those expressing different views with Benedict Arnold?
Does a player wish to be associated with the Jets, considering the gloomy state of air travel these days, what with slow-moving security lines, lost luggage, missed connections, cramped seating, late arrivals, delayed departures and the long-vanished aura surrounding the technological fact of flying itself?
Does a player want to be part of a franchise called the Titans, a name that evokes Titanic, a name that evokes epic disaster?
Raiders, Buccaneers and Vikings — these names represent Old World terrorists — gangs that made their livings through rape, plunder, torture, extortion, kidnapping, murder. Not good role models.
Saints. Surely, players don't want to be called saints. After all, they are hardly that, on a team with a dubious legacy of bounty hunting, to say nothing of occasional failed drug tests. And it's unlikely that real saints, secure and peaceful in their heavenly halos, would want something as crude and violent as a football team named for them.
Cowboys. Another name that insults both the players and those evoked by the mascot. Do today's mighty macho men of the gridiron want to be called boys? On the flip side, do real cowboys — hardworking, unassuming — want to be associated with prima donna athletes who beat their chests just for doing their jobs?