Nickname controversy: Washington in Super Bowl would be NFL’s worst nightmare

In my latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana, I try to envision the scene in Arizona if Washington makes the Super Bowl. If there’s such a thing as bad karma, it’ll happen for the NFL.

From the column:


I really hope Washington reaches the Super Bowl this year. I am going to be pulling for Robert Griffin III to be the real deal and for new coach Jay Gruden to engineer a turnaround in the nation’s capital.

Big time.

I mean, can you imagine the media feeding frenzy that would occur over Washington’s nickname if they made it to Phoenix for the big game? It would be of epic proportions.

Two weeks of relenting pounding from press all over the world on the issue. Endless debate on every platform imaginable, from ESPN to NPR and beyond. There would be minute-by-minute coverage of the protests from various Native American groups that surely would descend on Phoenix.

The game, what game? The controversy could dwarf what takes place on the field.

Indeed, Washington reaching the Super Bowl would be the NFL’s worst nightmare. And it would be fitting that Dan Snyder, perhaps one of the worst owners in sports, would have his big moment overshadowed by a mess he should have resolved years ago.

The NFL deserves all the havoc that this controversy has created. The Washington nickname firmly is part of the narrative on the eve of the new season.

In fact, ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” dedicated an hour in primetime Tuesday in a special exploring all facets of the debate. It included an extensive discussion about whether the furor over the Washington nickname is a media-driven issue.

In an excellent show-closing commentary, Bob Ley noted:

“(The controversy) is a free shot on a defenseless receiver for any columnist, blogger or opinion leader whether or not his or her concern about American Indians extends more than on hitting upon a 17 at one of their casinos. Dan Snyder makes opposition easier considering how he has treated the media and fans.”

Ley then answers his own question: “Is this a media creation? Of course, it is. But so was Watergate when it first started.”


4 thoughts on “Nickname controversy: Washington in Super Bowl would be NFL’s worst nightmare

  1. Just FYI, the latest national poll released last week showed that 71% of those fans who were asked said they did not think the franchise needed to change their name.

    That’s almost three out of four.

    Somehow I don’t think this would be the NFL’s “worst nightmare” if it happened (which it won’t but I digress…) at least from a fan standpoint.

  2. Again olbermann has made a statement over the REDSKINS name that he is completely clueless about!! I guess he has nothing else to talk about and simply tries to use this as a catch all since his reports are a joke and his opinions are not respected! Olbermann, maybe go out and actually speak to fans, including Native Americans, and get a little perspective on the issue you claim to know so much about!

  3. I would like to start a petition right now to get Keith olbermann to drop the name Keith! I will no longer use Olbermann’s first name because it’s offensive to all those native Keith’s and myself! Let’s get all the U.S. Senator’s on board with this petition! Let’s do this!!

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