Washington’s NFL alumni have differing opinions on the team’s name change

Monday was an odd day in Washington, as its NFL franchise announced that they were retiring their name and logo while working to develop new monikers that, “will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.” Some in our nation’s capital celebrated while others grieved — as Washington’s NFL franchise has been one of the biggest staples in D.C. sports for the past 80-plus years. 

Like the fans, former Washington players were also somewhat divided on this development. For the men that played with the famous logo on their helmets, this team, its colors and logo meant more than just a Sunday hobby. Still, some were happy to see a change and declared this decision as a chance to start over.

“It’s the dawn of a new day,” said Rick “Doc” Walker, who played for Washington from 1980-85, per ESPN. “It’s in lockstep with what’s going on in our country right now. A lot of pages are being turned.”

Hall of Fame cornerback and one of the best players in Washington’s history, Darrell Green, complimented team owner Dan Snyder for initiating a change during an appearance on Tiki and Tierney. 

“I’m glad about it. … I applaud Dan Snyder for making this decision and I agree with it,” said Green, who played for Washington from 1983 through 2002. “It’s always been a disparaging thing hanging over this team. This is a reconciling of history.”

Green also said that his on-field feats were for the franchise in Washington, not specifically for the team name, and he would have no problem if the name and logo were scrubbed from the Hall of Fame and history books. 

“For me, you can throw all of mine away. Humans first. If it offends people, humans first. My grandkids will be fine,” he said. “I’m not hung up on that (history), I’m just excited (it’s changing). So, dude, Darrell Green and his little football career? Have it. You can have it. Every bit of it. Would I trade it in for this? Done! There are things that are just more important.”

George Starke, a former Washington offensive lineman and member of the legendary group, “The Hogs,” revealed to WJLA that he is actually a Native American, and is definitely in favor of the name change. 

“Not everybody knows this but I am a Native American, I’m a Mohawk,” Starke said. “As a group, you know, the name’s got to go. I mean, it’s not that complicated an issue. There’s not a lot of subtle nuance regardless of what Dan Snyder has said historically.”

Still, not everyone is willing to accept the change. To other former players, Washington’s team name is more special than just a moniker. 

“I’ll always call them the Washington Redskins, I’m sorry,” former center Jeff Bostic said. “I’ve got great memories, great game scenarios that played out. There are parts of that I’ll never forget the rest of my life. It was an honor for us to put the helmet on that had the Redskins emblem on the sides. This is a political and financial decision. This isn’t what most people want. I’m sure if you’re taking polls in the D.C. area, how many want to keep or change it, I guarantee you the overwhelming number is probably to keep it.”

With training camp right around the corner, Washington does not have much time to select a new team name. Ben Fischer of SportsBusiness Journal reported that Washington would not release a new name Monday because of pending trademark issues are preventing that from occurring in a timely fashion. All we can do now is wait and see if this passionate D.C. fan base is ready to turn over a new leaf like their beloved football team has. 

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