Never is supposed to last forever. Forever is never supposed to come to an end. Neither are possible to measure in time, for as long as they continue to be true.
The wait for either to fail, can last for an infinite period of time, until they collide. We have witnessed such a collision during the past week in our Nation’s Capital.
Speaking of history, 25 years before Snyder’s promise, previous owner Jack Kent Cooke conveyed basically the same message, but he used more words to do so:
“There’s not a single, solitary jot, tittle, whit chance in the world” of a name change. “I like the name and it’s not a derogatory name.”
More than fifteen years before that in 1972, then team owner Edward Bennett Williams, met with a group of Native American leaders to hear their objections, yet the name survived; only fight song lyrics and cheerleader uniforms changed.
A decade before that in 1962, George Preston Marshall, founder and owner of the team for nearly forty years, finally agreed to allow African Americans on the team, but only after the federal government threatened to block continued use of the D.C. stadium located on federal land; before that he’s reported as proudly saying:
“We’ll start signing Negroes, when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.”
Presumably the “thorough review” won’t require revisiting dictionary evidence of the racial slur, or re-examining the mountain of evidence and legal briefs against the name, during the Harjo and Blackhorse cases, spanning a quarter of a century, or the two TTAB decisions and one federal court finding disparagement.
Instead, the “thorough review” more likely signals to impatient sponsors that change is coming; and as news reports continue to pour in, it appears that the team is unlikely to use Native American imagery as part of the new brand name.
As you know, I’ve been passionate on this issue always maintaining a name change for the team was only a matter of time; it appears that time is finally here.
As loyal readers will recall, more than a decade ago, I published this observation:
Then in 2017, I wrote the following, in a long overdue tribute to Suzan Harjo:
“[I]n the end, it is about the money, and the NFL clearly has had sufficient funds to defend the indefensible for a quarter century now, so isn’t it time FEDEX and other NFL sponsors step up and get on the right side of this issue, with their money? Let’s all follow the money.”
What we have witnessed within the last week demonstrates not only a dramatic continuation of the racial justice movement spanning the world, but the extraordinary power of brands and the sponsorship dollars they invest, and perhaps as importantly, the power of those who choose to invest in those brands.
Daniel Snyder surely meant NEVER to mean forever, but in 2013, he could not have foreseen how quickly the world has changed over the last six weeks.
How likely is it that Snyder’s current “thorough review” is focused on the idea of NEVER moving from the frying pan into the fire? If so, that could take Forever.
USA Today reports team will announce name change today, Monday July 13, 2020.
It’s official, the team has confirmed retirement of the name and logo, and the announcement of a new name will follow, to last for the next 100 years.