The National Football League has proposed a new rule that would make use of the N word on the field a 15 year penalty. A player that utters that word a second time would be ejected from the game. There has been much discussion on sports talk radio about whether this is a good idea or not. On one end of the continuum is the group that says the N word is vile and degrading and should be removed from our language entirely. On the other end are younger players who say that the word carries a different meaning today and the NFL's edict is unnecessary. I'm not going to discuss the NFL's motives or people reaction to this new proposed penalty. Instead, I'd like to discuss the NFL's hypocrisy.
The NFL feels that the N word is offensive to African Americans and should be banned. And yet the team in this nation's capitol goes by a name that is offensive to Native Americans. While it's true that in college football certain teams are named for Native American tribes; the Florida State Seminoles and Central Michigan Chippewas, for example. But those tribes are indigenous to the area and are supportive of the colleges using the nickname. "Redskin" is a derogatory term for all Native Americans. The is no "Redskin" tribe and no support for the name by anyone it purportedly describes.
A case could also be made that this situation shows an institutional racism in the NFL. As one former NFL player said on a morning talk show, white players don't use the N word on the field or there would be a fight. Players of African American descent use it among themselves. 70% of the players in the NFL are of African American descent. 100% of the owners are white. Team nicknames are decided on by the owner. Other owners could put pressure on the Washington franchise to change their name. They have not.
I understand that there is a long tradition in Washington of using the "Redskins" name. I am here to offer a solution. Keep the name, but change out the mascot. Instead of a caricature of a Native American the new mascot could be a redskin potato. The team could keep their colors and their name. Think of the promotional tie-ins. Redskin Potato Fries. Redskin Heads (think Green Bay cheese heads). And in the luxury suites, Redskin Potato Vodka. I've even taken the time to create a new helmet design.