Like many of you, I watched the circus that was Washington vs. Philadelphia on Sunday night that ultimately secured an NFC East division title and playoff berth for the Football Team.
The game was unwatchable in many ways — the two teams combined to turn it over five times, including a comical six-play stretch that included three turnovers. The Eagles, for all intents and purposes, waived the white flag with the result still in the balance.
It was all we love to hate and hate to love about the NFC East rolled into 60 minutes of football. The game was glorious in its ineptitude.
Commentators Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth did their best to guide NBC’s audience through the madness. But one moment of banter in the fourth quarter caught my attention.
Michaels was informing the audience of the Eagles’ third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who had recently entered the game. Michaels informed the audience that Sudfeld was originally drafted by Washington in 2016.
When doing so, Michaels referred to Washington as the Redskins, which is of course the name that Washington “retired” this past offseason.
Michaels apologized for the usage of the name, which got me wondering — are we going to act like the Redskins never existed?
The Redskins were one of the more popular and storied franchises in sports up until 2020, when race-related protests in the country prompted all sorts of cultural and linguistic changes. The Redskins were perhaps the most notable part of those changes, with the logo and team name being “retired” unceremoniously this offseason.
The franchise, the league and frankly, the media, have set forth this course for the organization and there’s no use fighting that battle anymore. What’s done is done.
But fans, longtime scribes and reporters of the NFL shouldn’t sit idly by as the Redskins are erased from history.
The Washington Redskins were actually a thing. They won three Super Bowls. Joe Gibbs‘ Redskins played a large role in disbanding the narrative that black players couldn’t play quarterback. The Redskins were also incompetent, gross and negligent at times. All of those things actually happened.
So to apologize for mentioning the name in the context of history is wrong. Michaels shouldn’t have apologized. He did nothing wrong. Noting the name of a team who drafted a player four years ago is his job.
The Washington Football Team has a bright future. Ron Rivera has ushered in a new sense of professionalism and determination that the previous regime in Ashburn only dreamed of. Alex Smith has inspired many to overcome their obstacles. Chase Young figures to anchor a productive defense for years to come.
While Washington looks forward, we shouldn’t ignore the franchise’s past. The Redskins moniker is a part of that, whether you like it or not.