Over the next few days, and in the spirit of a Presidential election year, NBC Sports Washington is polling ex-Redskins players and NFLers who grew up in the DMV for their thoughts on the burgundy-and-gold's pending name change - and what name THEY would like to see.
Former Redskins running back Brian Mitchell said last week that he felt a name change for the Washington Redskins was inevitable. A day later, FedEx -- one of Washington's largest corporate sponsors -- released a statement putting pressure on the organization to change its name, and on Friday morning, the team announced it is undergoing a "thorough investigation" of its name.
With a change appearing rather imminent, several ideas for Washington's next team name have surfaced, with the Warriors, Redtails and Redhawks arguably the most popular. But for Mitchell, none of those is the name idea that resonates with him the most.
"I've heard people say the 'Nation,'" Mitchell said as a possible Redskins' name change to NBC Sports Washington on Sunday. "Because when you hear the Seminole Nation, the Cherokee Nation, Blackfoot Nation, [Nation] is something that includes all tribes and things like that."
Should Washington choose to go that route, it could honor all Native Americans, something Washington owner Dan Snyder reportedly wants to do. Also, according to former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot, Snyder wants to keep the burgundy and gold color scheme and potentially the logo, too, which is something that could be accomplished by going the 'Nation' route.
Mitchell also explained that the name 'Nation' could even relate to more than just Native Americans: It could relate to those who live in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital.
"You also have people coming out saying 'D.C. Natives' as natives of the area," Mitchell said. "That can incorporate not only the Indian population, but the actual area we live in. 'I'm a native of the area' and all that type of stuff. Now, it's not like you are excluding. You are including. Those things do make a difference because it seems like you are inclusive instead of not being inclusive."
When discussing potential team names, one of the reasons why the 'Redtails' and 'Redhawks' have been popular suggestions is because they both begin with an 'R,' meaning the Redskins' signature 'HTTR' (short for Hail to the Redskins) acronym could remain even with the new moniker.
For Mitchell, making a change like that doesn't fit with why the team is considering changing its name in the first place.
"I know everyone wants to have the HTTR. Why? Because they don't want to change anything," Mitchell said. "Well, that's being lazy. If you're going to change, why not change everything for a positive spin? A lot of people understand why [the name should be changed], but they don't want to let go of everything from the past. Well, are you really changing it? That's where my mindset is."
Mitchell explained that when he played for Washington, he played for pride and honor of the organization, but not necessarily the actual name. Additionally, the former running back doesn't think a name change will impact the team's close relationship with the city.
"This team has been so tight-knit to this community forever. Still, if this team changes its name, it's still the same organization," Mitchell said. "It still provides the same opportunities for me. I'm always going to support it. I'm going to support it from the past. I'm going to support it for the future. But I can also have pride in the fact that this team did something that no one thought could happen, and in the process, is allowing everyone to feel good about themselves."
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"If you make the change, everybody has a say," Mitchell said. "Everybody has a comfort level. Everybody is included. That's what I'm looking for."
However, should the Redskins ultimately make the change, Mitchell doesn't want it to be the only step the franchise does use to help improve the lives of Native Americans and other minority groups in America today.
"If they change the name and whatever happens, OK, fine. But, there is still a population in the United States of America that don't have the same opportunities as the other," Mitchell said. "I think we don't stop with a name change. We have to do the same thing that Black America is asking and everything else: Let's start to try and make it better for those nations, those tribes, let's start making it better for them to live the American Dream.
"I don't think that changing the name only is going to change their situation," Mitchell said. "We need to start doing things to start changing their situation as well which makes America what it's supposed to be."
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