As the minicamps wind down and players, coaches and journalists fan out to take vacations or make final preparations for the 2014 campaign some issues may come to the fore, for better or worse, to fill that yawning void in the football universe that will be next month. Yesterday the federal government weighed in on the controversy surrounding the name of the Washington NFL franchise, and it appears that is tracking to be a big mess that no one really needs. I think I have a solution.
What qualifies me in these matters? Not much. I am a proud citizen of Steelers Nation embedded in (A name that will not be uttered in this piece) Country, which is to say the Washington DC Metro area, along with thousands of other Pittsburgh ex pats and sympathizers. In answer to the unasked question, besides the fact of my location making it impossible to ignore being exposed to every detail and nuance of this evolving drama, I am sticking my nose into this and sharing it with you because I was raised to do what I can to help the less fortunate. And I think we can all agree to those of us in Steelers Nation everyone else is less fortunate. And, as our meditations over our recent losses have shown us, the success of the Pittsburgh franchise has not only been confined to within the lines of the football field but in community uplift as well.
What I am proposing is really simple. If adopted it could go a long way to avoiding lawsuits, boycotts and (perhaps most important to many readers) endless commentating, debates and hand wringing over what to do with the Washington team name every time you tune in with the innocent intent of watching the Steelers pummel somebody on a given Sunday. So ready? Here goes. Just change the name to the...
No need to change the logo. In fact it works even better if the logo stays exactly the same. So no need to waste time or money (always of paramount concern to Mr. Snyder) hiring a marketing firm to go through the acrobatics designing a new logo, having contests that exploit the passions of the fans and serves to draw the whole process out. The team is guaranteed to gain a financial windfall as all existing team paraphernalia will be quickly scarfed up by collectors and the nostalgic, and relabeled items can be made quickly available and bought by hundreds of thousands of people. That's the business side, but it can be a great fit for the following reasons.
It instantly rehabilitates the Washington franchise from being viewed as a knuckle dragger in the area of Native American relations to the forefront of such efforts. Adopting the designation of Americans would serve as a constant reminder every time the team takes the field as to whose country this really is. In this sense it is important that the qualifying term 'native' be avoided. This is the one group of 'Americans' where the term is the most simple and fundamental birth rite. The rest of us have had to earn it in one fashion or another. The point will be made without sermonizing.
How appropriate would such a team name be for the nation's capital? Like American University which is also located in Washington the name is in this particular context is appropriately patriotic without any hint of being jingoistic. In tangent with the retained logo it has the benefit of also being perceived as being historically (and tastefully) accurate.
It complements the baseball franchise. The Americans and the Nationals. To a fertile mind it suggests all kinds of joint promotional and marketing efforts. And they instantly start lobbying for the MLB All Star game.
There will, however, have to be a few more changes. That guy in the native American outfit and headdress? He's got to go. But being mindful of suggesting hard decisions to others from the outside I am prepared to make the following offer, and I am sure that many in Steelers Nation will agree with this additional proposal. In an act of solidarity and friendship, we would offer to share in a ceremony where this guy gets euthanized along with our own Steely McBeam. Many of us have been harboring fantasies for some time of 'retiring' Steely (My only concern being that I've never seen Steely and Bill Cowher in the same place at the same time. I wouldn't want to inadvertently hurt the Coach). In any case, we could have a nice ceremony where these two, and any number of other annoying mascots are 'retired' and then sent floating face down on the Ohio River. This creative funeral procession will eventually make its way to Cincinnati where it will most likely send a message to Bengals Nation that Pittsburgh means business this year and to make sure those living wills are up to date. A two word reminder: Willie Colon.
Washington and Pittsburgh gets something out of this. A win/win.