On this Ash Wednesday, where Jesus-fearing Christians are implored to give up something for Lent, I bring you a longtime Washington, D.C. news anchor who wants the Redskins to give up something for good: their name.
It’s no secret that Jim Vance, the anchor at WRC-TV, whose career at the NBC-owned television station spans six decades, thinks that the name, which has been associated with the team for all but one season of its 81-year existence (they were founded as the Boston Braves in 1932, before renaming themselves the Redskins the next year, and relocating to Washington in 1937), should go the way of Iron Eyes Cody. At around this time last year, when the phenomenon known as “Linsanity” emerged – and a couple of unfortunate uses of the phrase “chink in the armor” occurred as a result – Vance, in an editorial on a WRC-TV newscast, reminded viewers that that phrase is no different from the word “Redskins,” which “from its inception and inclusion in our language… was meant to be an insult.”
This past weekend, roughly one month after the town’s mayor, Vincent Gray, went on record by saying the team should think about picking a new team name if they want to physically play their games in Washington, Vance once again took to the air and made an even stronger case, arguing that as he has become a fan of the Redskins, his hatred for “that, in my view, vulgar name” grew by leaps and bounds.
Vance says that the word “Redskin” is no different than the “pejoratives” one would use “if you really wanted to insult a black man and attack a Jew, an Irishman, and probably start a fight.” His connotation for the word is derived from old Westerns that he watched back in the day, where he “never, not once, ever, heard of a Redskin referred to, respectfully. A Redskin was always dirty… bloody… savage… inhuman.. unhuman. You name it.
“The name sucks,” Vance contended. “We need to get rid of it.”
And to his credit, Vance actually has a replacement name for the team: the Washington Warriors, using the name that once graced the modern-day 76ers of the NBA, which he watched during his childhood in his native Philadelphia.
“Sixty years later,” Vance said, “I would love to, once again, adore the Warriors.”
There’s just one problem: The logo that the Philadelphia Warriors used some sixty years ago consisted of – you guessed it – a smiling Indian dribbling a basketball.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to call an offsides penalty on Jim for this one.