As a fan of the Washington Redskins and as a man of opinion and thought, I am hoping that I can reach out to Hogs Haven members, readers, and any or all members of the media and of this debate that may read this.
We are now 5 1/2 weeks into the NFL regular season. Our beloved Washington Redskins will be taking on their most reviled opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, in another match-up that will continue one of the most storied rivalries in American sports, professional or otherwise. Yet, Redskins fans are instead embroiled in an intra-fanbase dispute, as well as a dispute with members of the media and a few special interest groups. The dispute is the on-again, off-again name change argument. It inflames passions, and brings out the divisiveness over the issue and over positions of race, culture, tradition, history, and political correctness.
Thus, I implore those within the Redskins organization, the fans, Hogs Haven writers, the media, the NFL, and others to place a moratorium on this debate until the off-season.
I feel that during a season, a debate like this detracts from the focus on the game. It takes away from the story lines of each week's games. It focuses on an off-the-field issue and is a detriment to the enjoyment and interest in the product placed on the field. Fans get incensed on both sides of the issue (though, while some fail to admit it, the scales are heavily tipped in favor of keeping the name), the players have to deal with the question, and the ownership has one more distraction to take away focus while trying to find ways to improve the team's performance.
To be honest, even Roger Goodell (who courted this debate further with his "if one person is offended, we must listen" stance) would be better served to table this debate until the off-season. It is casting a cloud over the league, though it may be seen by the league as a welcome distraction from the recent documentary slamming the NFL for allegedly playing down concussions. Nevertheless, Goodell does not need a money-making franchise in a major media market embroiled in such a debate instead of supporting the franchise during the regular season. Also, with the off-season being a slower time for the league, there would be more time that could be spent on a sober, objective debate over the issue. Instead, to continue to allow the manufacturing of controversy over the name during it's busiest period of the year is, frankly, irresponsible business practice as it does nothing to further the league at the moment.
Just look at Hogs Haven...it's Dallas week, we have a chance to see the Redskins potentially in first place in the NFC East despite their stumbling start to the season, and yet...all we seem to talk about is the name change debate. As a fan base, we should be quick to embrace the debate...but embrace it at the right time. To embrace the debate at a time when our passions are peaking in support of the team only serves to further drive bitterness into the debate due to the emotional state of the fanbase.
As for the media, they continue to push the matter to drive up interest in the form of ad dollars and page views. Whether it is the pandering, ignorant posturing of Mike Wise, the curiously intriguing counter-points of Rick Reilly, or the unbiased, opinionless reporting of John Keim...it's just more fuel for the fire.
We're having the right debate, but it is the wrong time to do so. To encourage the debate now is to potentially alienate the ownership from a willingness to compromise, to potentially fracture the fanbase, and to potentially create a more emotionally-driven backlash against the minority who are hell-bent on changing the name. So I strongly ask that we all consider placing a moratorium on this matter until the off-season and we have a sober, substantive discussion on the matter, as fans, as activists, as media members, and as a franchise. The franchise has existed with this name since the Great Depression...to wait a few more months to wait and have this discussion properly would not be harmful to anything or anyone.