The NFL Can Do Better: A Modest Proposal to Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins

I am a Washingtonian and lifelong Redskins fan. With the exception of Robert Griffin III’s rookie season, I’ve lived through a parade of losing teams, a carousel of coaches, way below average quarterbacks and arguably one of the worst owners in the NFL – Dan Snyder. Now even Matt Stone and Trey Parker from @SouthPark are mocking the Redskins and Dan Snyder. Can it get any worse?

Understand that I have idolized Redskins teams and players since growing up during the 1970’s in the Washington D.C. suburbs. I remember the excitement of rocking RFK stadium, watching Sonny Jurgenson and Joe Theismann, the success of (the first) Joe Gibbs era and Super Bowl victories in the ‘80’s. So, you could say that I have an emotional attachment to the name. I live and breathe burgundy and gold.

I’ve spent the last 20 years of watching that slow train wreck on the field every Sunday. I know…pathetic, right? Now the Redskins name controversy and Dan Snyder’s cartoonish face have hit the front pages of the news. Social media is buzzing about a Redskins name change and how ridiculous Dan Snyder looks holding on to it. Maybe only the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Detroit Lions fans feel my pain right now.

When I first heard about the Redskins name controversy, my first thought was “how dare these people try to force us to change our beloved Redskins brand?” Even if Dan Snyder is a jerk, as an owner he has the right to do whatever he wants. Why should he change? Then I got to thinking: What if the change wasn’t so bad? What if Snyder could even use it to his advantage? I’m a white guy, so what do I know about how offensive the Redskins name is to native American Indians? Lord knows they have been abused enough!

Redskins name controversy – Washington, we’ve been there before

In addition to giving my heart and soul to the Redskins back in the ‘70’s, I also was a big Washington Bullets fan. I remember when Wes Unseld, Elvin “Big E” Hayes and a cast of misfits won the NBA championship over the Seattle Supersonics in 1978. They played in Capital Center on basically the same site as the current Redskins stadium – FedEx Field.

People forget that the Washington Bullets name was changed to the Washington Wizards because it was said that the connotations of “Bullets” could be linked to violence in the streets. Seriously – that was the argument. Personally, I think the true reason for the name change was that the Bullets sucked at that time and the team wanted to sell some more merchandise – but that’s another story. I was sad to see the Bullets name go since, once again, I grew up with it. Frankly, though, I was more upset that they changed the name to Wizards and made us wear those ugly light blue uniforms.

Now at least we have the retro uniforms back (thanks guys) and they’re finally fielding a decent team. The Bullets name is gone forever, but does anyone care anymore? No. All we care is that they win!

Dan Snyder is – how do I put this mildly – not a very nice guy. That’s probably the ONLY thing I agree with Dallas Cowboys fans about. Since he bought the team back in 1999, and became one of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans in the process, he has created one of the crappiest NFL experiences in the entire league. Not only have the Redskins fielded losers basically every year, they have in FedEx arguably the worst stadium in the NFL. Trust me – I’ve been to a number of them on my “bucket list” tour of the NFL.

To add insult to injury, the prices at FedEx are inflated and the facilities stink. I remember going to a game at FedEx with my then pregnant wife. When she was thirsty, I went looking for a water fountain only to find that Dan Snyder had disabled them so that people would have to stand in line for an $8 bottle of water! How much margin does this billionaire need?

I’ve come to the conclusion that Dan Snyder needs to change the name. Now I’m going to attempt to convince Redskin fans and maybe even Dan Snyder. Who knows? Even the most stubborn, most insensitive people can be convinced to change when there’s money in it for them.

Redskins name – Why couldn’t Snyder just change the name to something like the Indians or the Braves? The Indians and Braves are baseball teams, yes – but who really cares? Florida State Seminoles is an example of an inoffensive name, at least I think it is. Florida State is the defending NCAA champion, and I haven’t heard any complaining about the name or the helmet logo.

Redskins logo – Maybe Snyder could even keep the logo with some unobtrusive tweaks. Has anyone asked the American Indian Nation if we could just keep the helmet and change the logo to something more like the Seminoles’? Jeez – if they agreed, that would be so easy! If that doesn’t work, he could at least keep the colors and have a totally different logo that paints the American Indians in a more positive light.

Redskins fight song – We could change “Hail to the Redskins” to “Hail to the Indians” in a cinch. Heck, Indians even sounds fine in the song and “Braves on the warpath” is already there.

Redskins brand – Has Dan Snyder even considered the legions of American Indians and their supporters that could become fans of the “Washington team”? Who knows? With some swift and compassionate action he might even be able to attract fans outside of the U.S. for the team and the NFL in general. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Bottom Line: Will I care for more than a few weeks what the “Washington team’s” new name and logo is? Not likely. As long as they can field a winning team, I don’t care what the name is. I would, however, like to keep the colors and some semblance of the logo.

Redskins name controversy: How could the @NFL do better?

  • “Encourage” Dan Snyder to change the name.Yes, Snyder is the owner and he can do what he wants with the team. That doesn’t mean the NFL can’t put pressure on him, especially if it’s not a difficult change. What’s the issue? Is it that poor billionaire Dan Snyder can’t afford to re-brand the team? It shouldn’t be.
  • Make it right. As a Redskins fan, even though the team (right now) and FedEx Field both suck, I would be more inclined to see an “Indians” game if it would please an ENTIRE NATION of American Indians that have been stolen from and abused since the Europeans came to this country.
  • Use it as an opportunity to attract more fans. Who knows, maybe some of those millions of American Indians and their supporters would be moved to support the Washington team. You might even see American Indian children becoming part of a new generation of star NFL players. As I recall the Indians didn’t do too badly with Jim Thorpe, and Samoans like Troy Polamalu are a tribute to what can happen when a people turns its mind to something.
  • Retire the name. The U.S. Patent Office has refused to renew the trademark so anyone can use the name now, as the SouthPark guys have so aptly pointed out. Maybe they could be convinced to reinstate the trademark if the NFL agrees to retire it. Otherwise some wise cracker will use the name like Cartman did to make a point.

In summary, I believe that the NFL, the Redskins organization and Dan Snyder can all do better. I sincerely hope that the Redskins name will get changed and Dan Snyder will understand that not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also good business.

If he doesn’t do this, I hope that someone else buys the team and does it for him. After his legacy so far, I don’t think many true Redskins fans would miss him. Many of us still remember how Snyder mortgaged the future of the team for players like Albert Haynesworth and Deion Sanders to (in my opinion) boost his own ego. 🙂

So, how about it Dan? I believe the change would make the majority of the fans happier. It would also make the team more profitable, and we know how you like more profit. And while you’re at it, retire the miserable FedEx and give us a stadium that’s more like the intimate RFK but with all the modern conveniences. The Ravens and the Orioles have a good model for that. Above all, please give us back a winning team!

If you liked this post, then maybe you will also enjoy others in the series about how the NFL could do better. Here is one entitled “The NFL Can Do Better – Domestic Violence”.

As I approach my 50 birthday, I’ve started on a “bucket list” tour of NFL stadiums. I’m looking for suggestions on restaurants, bars and must-see attractions in each city. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the NFL could do better too, so please leave me a comment if you have a moment.

See you at the game!

Posted by Dan Aldridge

Dan Aldridge is the CEO of Performa Apps, an ERP software consulting firm specializing in Infor LN and Baan. Dan has almost 20 years of ERP implementation experience. He has helped dozens of companies with their ERP software implementations and training including Carrier, Mercedes Benz, Snap-on Tools, Blue Bird, Flextronics and a host of other manufacturing companies. He is a serial entrepreneur and blogger with his new site inforln.com.

You can reach Dan on e-mail at dan(dot)aldridge(at)i-app.com or on his social networks: About.me, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Scoop.it, WordPress,Slideshare,Pinterestand Facebook. His company is on LinkedIn, Twitter,Facebook,Google+,YouTube, Scoop.it and Slideshare.

I'm an Enterprise Software blogger, ERP enthusiast, CEO of Performa Apps and Founder of InforLN.com. Love the NFL, basketball, manufacturing, ERP software and charities. Movie fanatic. Total nerd and computer geek. Love gadgets, but like some old school things like a good book. Fan of small business. Believer in the power of social media. Washington, DC native that can't stand politics.

Posted in Entrepreneurship and Startups

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Dan Aldridge
Follow Dan Aldridge on Twitter @danaldridge1
Reston, VA
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