In sports, your team name is (or at least should be) a source of pride, the symbol that brings people together to lift a team on its shoulders. It starts when we’re as young as five and lasts through the rest of our lives; cheering for pee-wee leagues, our schools, and professional teams. Some names even resonate with an entire nation and around the world, whether they’re beloved or despised. Some of the names that come to mind right away are the Cowboys, Yankees, and Bulls. Maybe you’ve always wondered how did these team names come about and if they will ever change. We know now at least one team had to.
All In the Name: Why So Long?
Redskins No More
On Monday, the Washington football team have retired their name and logo after 87 years. This after a decades-long fight over the offensive nature of the name to the Native American community. The issue even went to the Supreme Court in 2009 and it was ruled that Washington could keep the name. Owner Daniel Snyder recently doubled down on insisting the name wouldn’t be changed. When sponsors FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo threatened to pull their support, Mr. Snyder made a change.
If you’re curious, the term is offensive because it’s associated with the scalping of native Americans as a bounty. In their culture, being called that is derogatory. It was only right to change the name with an unprecedented focus on social justice right now.
Will This Be A Trend?
It’s long been said that a lot of Native Americans find having sports teams and mascots named after and imitating them demeaning. In 2007, the University of Illinois dropped Native American mascot Chief Illiniwek after 81 years. That fight that started in 1989. Yet we have a few teams professionally that have those cultural monikers.
We have the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and reigning Super Bowl champ Kansas City Chiefs; two baseball teams and a football team respectively. The Chiefs at least seem to be more of a name of endearment but we’ll just have to see what changes are made moving forward.
Let’s Play the Name Game
Here’s a fun fact, the football team was not the city’s first professional sports team to change its name because of social consciousness. 23 years ago, the Washington Bullets changed their name to ‘Wizards’. Rising gun violence in the nation’s capital brought about the change. Their approach to the name change was unique as well, an 800-number was set up for the community to call in and vote on a list of names.
What will the new name for the Washington football franchise be? Here is a list of suitable names that would fit. Since both the NBA and WNBA teams have magical themed names, Wizards and Mystics, that’s where we’ll start. The Washington Warlocks with there logo being a warlock character holding a football-shaped crystal ball (a personal favorite). Next, the Washington Wave, crashing through the NFC East. Sounds like a fun start. Lastly the Washington Wasps (that’s stings!). That may be a reach but hey, there’s a pro team called the Pelicans.
What would your name be for the franchise?
New Year, (Bad) Old Takes
No picks this week. Not to avoid being wrong, just because there are way too many variables to make decisions confidently in many of this week’s contests. Instead, this will be a different exercise. One where I own up to things I was wrong about prior to the start of the season. A ‘mea culpa’ of sorts to go into the new year with a fresh slate.
My expectations for this week are:
- Minnesota Vikings get in –and keep the Philadelphia Eagles out — by beating the Chicago Bears, who rest their starters the second half of this week’s matchup because…
- Los Angeles Rams blowout the San Francisco 49ers, and secure the second-seed in the NFC.
- Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns to secure the AFC North and eliminate the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans, but are just a wild card as the Houston Texans also win.
- Los Angeles Chargers win, but so do the Kansas City Chiefs, keeping the Bolts on the road.
Now to own it…
• Patrick Mahomes is good…like really good: Before the season I was not of the mindset that the second-year pro would be an MVP candidate leading the Chiefs’ explosive attack. Taking over for Alex Smith, Mahomes has seemingly taken Kansas City to another level; though postseason victories are needed for certainty.
• The Bears would be 7-9, 8-8 at best: This one hurts to admit as a Bears’ fan. I sold the team short, underestimating the impact of Head Coach Matt Nagy would have. Now the team is 11-4, NFC North champs, and still vying for a first-round bye. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is far from a guarantee to be a star, but he and the team are in great hands.
• Jacksonville Jaguars will repeat as AFC South champs: This had nothing to do with the disaster that is a Blake Bortles-led offense. It had everything to do with the Jaguars supposedly having the best defense in the division and the other teams’ quarterbacks all having their own issues. Instead cornerback Jalen Ramsey‘s off-season jawing was aimed in the wrong direction.
• Le’Veon Bell will lead the league in scrimmage yards: Talk about failure to launch. With Bell not reporting due to a contract dispute, the Steelers had to move on. His replacement, James Conner is currently in the top-12 in scrimmage yards even after missing the past three contests.
•2018 will be Pete Carroll’s last with Seattle Seahawks: Fueled by the departures of many key pieces from the franchises most successful era, the thought was that the Seahawks would be closer to rebuilding than contending. Credit Carroll for keeping things together; rededicating the team to the run and getting the defense to be respectable.
• Carolina Panthers will win the NFC South: Cam Newton began the season playing his most complete ball under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Unfortunately, Newton’s surgically repaired shoulder became an issue once again. The team lost six straight, resulting in the Panthers shutting the QB down once eliminated from contention.
• The Cleveland Browns blew both first-round picks: When Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward were selected first and fourth, respectively, the thought was, “typical”. Shaped largely by the previous doings of the organization, the opinion was based on past performance; usually a good indicator of future success. The Browns nailed both picks, especially Mayfield.
• Andrew Luck would not be the same: Another quarterback with shoulder worries, Luck missed a season and a half trying to make it back. In fairness – to me – it took a few games for the Colts QB to look all the way like himself, and he may never have the same arm strength, but Luck’s return along with a ground game and improved protection have Indy thinking playoffs.
• The New York Giants will win the NFC East: While I thought the G-Men should have taken a quarterback second-overall, they appeared poised to make noise with running back Saquon Barkley. That was before Eli Manning was more inconsistent than ever to start the year. Typically a slow-starter and postseason maven, Manning took too long to find his groove in 2018.
• Josh Rosen will be the most successful rookie QB: Supporting cast and coaching had a ton to do with this, but wrong is wrong. Rosen’s lack of mobility was on full display as the Arizona Cardinals failed to protect him. A lack of weapons – aside from the oft-forgotten David Johnson and aging Larry Fitzgerald – and competent coaching kept optimism in check this season.
Those are my confessions if poor prognosticating in 2018. I would love to hear your worst preseason takes, sound off here or tweet it @JoshLWOS.