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Redskins No More, A New Era in Washington Football Begins Today

“No, the Indian, not the Cowboy!”, said my older brother Michael age 10 in 1977.

“Cowboy!”, I would shout.

“No Indian!”, my brother Michael would say while holding me and turning me around.

I just have a vague memory of rooting for the Cowboy when I was really young and the broadcasts of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys would show Chief Zeke and the Cowboy fake fighting. Maybe these, as memories of the Dallas Cowboys playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70 something Super Bowl, and rooting for Bradshaw over Stabauch are just that–vague vague memories. Loving ‘the Mean Joe Greene and Coca-Cola’ commercials and watching with a certain amount of fear those terrible reruns of Cowboy and Indian movies.

Somewhere between when I started having friends and schoolwork and pre-nursery school, I went from rooting for a Cowboy to rooting for an Indian. I was no longer being terrified of the image of a Redskin or the redskins helmet.

Then, about that time, 6 or 7 years old, at a family friends house, they gifted me a Redskins helmet and the love affair began when I got over the fear of the Indian looking mascot.

Scratches and paint on this kids show helmet, soon there was a JT #7 jersey and some sort of football pants and on Sundays, the helmet on and we, older brother, dad and me we at RFK stadium for the Redskins on Sunday. Welcome to the 1980s.

Learning about birch bark and hollowed out canoes, peace pipes, teepees, moccasins, a Redskins fan slowly emerging into a Native American supporter. In 1981, the Redskins started the season 0-6 and my dad happened to get me a signed note from Howard Cosell saying, “Cheer up Marc. Better days ahead!” My dad had met him on an airplane randomly but thought of me.

The following year, 1982, a Redskins wearing from head to toe fan in his 1st season of attending full time the Redskins, an 8-year-old than 9-year-old who would have all the fans around him knocking his helmet after scores and scoring a bunch. Us friends playing school yard fun bunch reenactments. Mosley winning kicks with us throwing snow as graffiti and celebrating the new NFl field goal record and 1st place. For a kid from Chevy Chase, Maryland, who was not clued in that since he was in Maryland he could pick up on the Baltimore Orioles, the Redskins were his hometown team, missing or feeling like we did not have a baseball team and by the NFC Championship game loving everything Redskin or Indian and disliking everything Dallas and Cowboy. Welcome to Washington, 1982.

Probably going to games with friends way too young like the Gerald Riggs 203-yard loss to Philadelphia Eagles. Or, trips to Chicago and Philadelphia for playoff wins in cold chilly weather. Yes, Ditka I still thank you for calling out Dexter’s IQ as that of a grapefruit. Bulletin border fodder always was a way to beat Gibbs! Also, redskins is not a slur, yeah, right!

Dexter covid-free and able to talk circles around most on the trial and tribulations of substance abuse, he leads a long line of Redskins making a difference. But the name held us back from BLM and social platforms!

An elder statesman Bobby Mitchell, an OL genius coach Joe Bugel…Darrell Green, Doug Williams…I still had my memories and was a fan of teams and players.

Yes, we own that—breaking the ceiling for the African American quarterback. Russell Wilson was just voted the quarterback on the decade team of the 2010s. Doug if playing for a winner and avoiding injuries throughout his career might have made that team a few decades earlier. Whether he could have or could not have, he still put together the most impressive quarter and one of the most dramatic quarters of football in the history of the NFL given the 10-0 hole and hyperextended knee .

Riggins run in Super Bowl XVII might have been the sweetest moment as a Redskin fan. This boy was there in Pasadena and would sleep with the famous poster of his immortalized run over his bed reliving the stadium and evening.

That poster is still in storage and like the helmet is ready to go—out the door.

Tomorrow to some like myself will be honking our horn at stop lights and yelling, “Go Insert New Team Name.” Number ones and covid six feet away high fives!

Tomorrow is a Super Bowl Victory for the former team named the Redskins. Tomorrow is ending an era. Tomorrow I will not burn my jersey but I understand it is the end of an era. We will have a new name. In some way, I will always be a Redskin. I do not care to start some sort of if you wear the Skins jersey you are a racist…But now I can go to the National Museum of the Indians and be a Native Rights Activist knowing that the team I am rooting for is not a racial slur. I can go down there and wear my teams colors.

That, racial justice, sharing between nations like the 1st Thanksgiving, is better than any Super Bowl victory. Thanks Daniel Marc Snyder for a true gift—the gift of prioritizing where a win starts: with the team name. Thanks for opening up the country. Httr! Until tomorrow!

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