Long live the Washington Monuments?
I'm not a big believer that every new development in our society carries the same significance that, say, walking on the moon or electing our first Black president did. So forgive me for not regarding Monday morning's official news that Washington's NFL franchise would change its name as a topic worthy of triumphal celebration or deep cultural and philosophical rumination.
A sports team will be called something else. This has happened before, and it will happen again. The New York Yankees weren't always the New York Yankees. They were, once upon a time, the New York Highlanders, and they became the Yankees only after a newspaper's sports editor started referring to them as such because the word "Yankees" fit better into a headline. The Eagles merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1943 to form the Steagles; World War II had so drained football's talent pool that neither franchise would have had enough players to field a team on its own. The following year, the Eagles were back to being the Eagles, the Steelers were back to being the Steelers, and the world managed to keep turning.
Team names have changed for a variety of reasons under a variety of circumstances. Proud franchises with strong civic ties have relocated. The Colts left Baltimore. The Browns left Cleveland, then came back. The Raiders left Oakland, then came back to Oakland, then left again. Less-proud franchises with weaker civic ties went defunct. Anyone remember the Boston Yanks? Please, let's keep this latest moment of relative upheaval in its proper perspective. We only show off our own ignorance when we consider something to be unprecedented when it isn't.
The circumstances of this particular development are obvious. After maintaining for years that he would never allow or abide by a change of the franchise's name, owner Daniel Snyder bowed to pressure not from the team's fans or Native Americans or the media or a woke mob on Twitter, but from the franchise's wealthiest and most influential patrons. "We want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward," Snyder said in a statement, and the order of that list accurately reflected his priorities in making this decision. Even FedEx, the longtime holder of the naming rights to the team's stadium, formally requested a change.
So the team in Washington will have a new moniker, reportedly within a couple of weeks, and in the spirit of harmony and unity that surely will characterize whatever the franchise's new name turns out to be, here are a few suggestions.