The Problem with Washington Choosing Warriors as Its New Name

Chris Russell

If multiple reports are true, the Washington NFL franchise has settled on a new name and it could be announced in the next 48 hours.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! was first to report an advanced timeline.

John Keim of ESPN had a different description but essentially the same message on Saturday night and dropped this bit of information that I haven't seen before now.

Keim mentioned the name "Warriors" as a one-time choice for a potential Arena Football League team that Dan Snyder wanted to bring to the area. Warriors has been a favorite all along and Snyder once trademarked the term.

It's highly doubtful that Keim just threw that information in without having some sort of insight as to the new name.

If it is indeed Warriors, it's hard to argue with how it sounds and what it could look like. This is probably why the process has been accelerated.

The Golden State Warriors are one of the most popular NBA teams and brands because of their recent run of success.

The name is obviously not unique but clearly is eligible for selection. The NFL and fans/media love word alliteration.

The problem? There are a few. Some fans do not like the name because it's already in use. They want a unique name. Okay. Whatever. 

What fans really should be thinking about is this: Because you would be changing from the current name, which is defined as a racial slur (no matter how you view it), and potentially would be going to Warriors—which also has sometimes had negative connotations when used in the past. 

Remember when Marquette University changed their name in 1994 from the Marquette Warriors to the Marquette Golden Eagles, because "the Warriors nickname that was considered offensive to American Indians," according to an Associated Press report in the Gadsden Times from May 4, 1994.

When the decision was made, the report in the Gadsden Times said that the school "used a 'Willie Wampum' cartoon caricature of an Indian warrior before that mascot was dropped as offensive."

They described a school logo leading up to the change as a "silhouette drawing of an Indian warrior."

Gabrielle Grant, who at that time was the President of the American Indian Student Association told the paper that non-Indian students not finding the name offensive were out of touch.

"I'd say that they could never know because they're not American Indian."

Grant said at the time that she had not bought Warriors apparel in her four years at Marquette.

Hmmmm...

According to an online dictionary, the term Warrior is defined a:

1. a soldier, especially in the past

2. someone involved in a fight or argument

The word warrior comes from the Old North French word ‘werreier’ meaning ‘a soldier’. It first appeared in English in the 14th century.

OK, so here's the deal.

Many are going to say the term is completely fine. If it doesn't affect the NBA team with the name, then why should it affect an NFL team? So what if Marquette move on from it?

Because Marquette's association with "Warriors" was racist, which, regardless of what Washington says its intentions are for adopting it, the connection is clearly there. It would be ignorant for the organization to risk offending the same group of people with its new name as it had with its old one.

Is it possible that the NFL and Dan Snyder are forgetting about the Warriors moniker issue because it was 25 or so years ago? Are they just willing to overlook it?

They shouldn't. 

If they do, you know it would be brought up and create the same controversy it just said it was addressing, only this time after already attempting to fix the problem.

And then they'd be forced to change the name again.

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Chris Russell is the Publisher of this site, a part of SI.com. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621

Comments (18)
No. 1-13
Beer is Food
Beer is Food

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if the skins rename the team Warriors. Most would say there is no way Snyder can be stupid enough to rename the team to what most of America would see as a Much less offensive Native American slight, but a slight never the less. But not me. I’m a redskins fan. Through and through. I’ve come to expect the stupid. The Snyder stupid. SS for short. Oops did I say short, i meant in brief. Warriors, come out to play a.

Dalizarian
Dalizarian

I don't see what the problem is. All they need to do is make sure their new Warrior mascot is most definitely NOT a Native American warrior. Make it an armored knight or something. Problem solved.

kcamp24
kcamp24

"Warriors" is offensive? Somebody forgot to tell the USA Warriors Ice Hockey program and all its affiliated teams nationwide.

Chiefs Kingdom
Chiefs Kingdom

So, Warriors is offensive? You might want to discuss that with the Wounded Warrior Project.

noyb
noyb

The area around DC is packed full of Warriors, that being current and former military. If that's also offensive. I really don't know what else could be. Just call it "Washington football team" and have no mascot.

brooklynmc
brooklynmc

"Warriors, come out and playyy" I think of NYC. Basketball people think of Golden State. The name is obvious and used and there are probably a thousand high school teams named the Warriors. Low hanging fruit.

BigAl66
BigAl66

Based on recent performance, Turkeys would be appropriate. That way, the president can pardon them every year.

Zazzles30
Zazzles30

Obviously Warriors is the PERFECT name for this situation. I like it specifically because it can still be considered offensive to Native Americans.

No matter what name they choose, some group or another can always find a way to be offended, particularly with the snowflake generations coming of age. By choosing "Warriors" Snyder accomplishes what he needs to accomplish right now, which is broaden the debate.

Somehow the Redskins have become the primary focus of this discussion (yes, the Cleveland Indians are involved as well, though not to the degree that the Redskins are). By choosing "Warriors," Snyder fails to solve the issue but he does ensure that the target expands to Golden State and a number of college and high school teams. If it's offensive in Washington it has to be offensive in California and everywhere else, right?

Once the debate broadens to include all the other "Warriors" teams, it can't help but broaden further to target the Chiefs, Seminoles, Braves, etc, and perhaps further to other groups of people (Irish and Nordic Americans come to mind, with the Celtics and Vikings). This is what Snyder wants - we need to ask ourselves where is the line. It gets a lot harder to be offended when you have to chance a dozen team names than when you only have to change one.

War_Warriors
War_Warriors

Chris Russel is a joke because he hosts a podcast called "Locked on the Redskins" while being critical of the name "Warrior"? The term "Warrior" is such a neutral name that you have to be an extremely unhappy and discontent human being to even be offended at this. If I am Chris Russel I would be like that as well since like may 12 people clicked on his article and that SI is no longer relevant? Sad that Chris will be losing his job here as soon as SI decides to close down its business. Btw, if you assume that I am a Caucasian male, you would be wrong.

Dwarfboy
Dwarfboy

I suggest an animal name such as Bats, Foxes, Woodchucks or Eastern Box Turtles which are all native to the DC swamp.

Godot
Godot

If they are going to license "The Warrior" by Scandal ft, Patty Smyth to play at games and on TV, this is a win for everyone, or they can create mascots like the movie of the same name. Overall, the name itself is not an issue, but how they market will be important. If this is a way to keep their Indian motiff on the helmets, or mascot, or adjust to American soldier motiffs, I think this would be a mistake.

SeabassWells
SeabassWells

I think you guys should name your team the Washington Monuments because it does not have to do with skin color it is just a statue.

Skinsnomatta1
Skinsnomatta1

warrior is just fine.. There is no mention at all in the dictionary of indians and being negitive and it has a military meaning. Marquette had a terrible logo that was offensive. ENOUGH ALREADY.
YOU Are a Drama Queen for sure and Rooster fits U well.... Always there to stir up a bucket of Poo.


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