Naming Rights

Heads or Tails?

My favorite  sports memory was a coin toss.

This is likely quite rare, among fans, and even non-fans. I may be even be alone in this.

I haven’t watched football for many years, my reasons for shunning it are too many to list here ( short story: nothing to do with kneeling vs standing). Though, the last team that I had any interest in (decades ago) was the Washington Redskins; which as of yesterday are no longer the Redskins.

I didn’t have any prior connection to the team, but when we were young men, one of my high school teammates became their special teams captain for a few years.  My loyalty to Washington’s  team came on rather suddenly.

Seeing Reggie on the field, across from John Elway and other Denver Broncos’ captains, for the Super Bowl coin toss stands alone as my all-time favorite sports moment.

Referee and Redskins football player at Coin Toss cermony

Reggie Branch, Super Bowl XXII

No other sporting event has ever reduced me to tears. But there I was, furiously wiping my eyes and  cheeks, with fingers that had just handled some hot peppers, so I cried some more.  At least I could  legitimately use the “I got something in my eye,” excuse when my friends made fun of me.

That Name, Though

I didn’t think that much about the name ”Redskins” in the beginning. As a whiter-than-white kid, growing up in the era I did, I was exposed to many  entertainment options containing  racist elements. You probably were, too (if you don’t believe me, you  can pop some search terms into YouTube—perhaps racist cartoons’— then you can get back to me). As a child, when I first heard the name Redskins, I never even gave a thought as to whether it was offensive.

Though,  as I pondered the name and listened to people, it was clear how problematic the name Redskins was.  I briefly lived in the DC area in the early 1990s, and there was what seemed like an especially large amount of uproar about the name. Yes, it was  a pretty messed-up name.

I was glad to read today that the owner of the team announced that the Redskins name was being dropped. This followed comments by the teams owner that he would “never” change the name. This threat, by FedEx—which had naming right the team’s stadium— to revoke a sponsorship deal seems to have been the reason for the reversal.

Money talks.

From what I’ve seen on social media, many middle-aged white men are offended by the decision. This  seems rather comical, in the same way when dudes claimed that their childhoods were ruined when a remake of Ghostbusters featured women in the lead roles.

Let them be offended. They’ll get over it, or become outraged about something else, soon enough. It was well past time for that team’s name to be changed.

Good riddance.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I don’t think I’d talked to Reggie Branch since  we were about 20, when during a college break we both showed up at our high school’s weight room to for a workout.

Though a few years ago, I was able to get his contact info. In the subsequent  text message conversation, I made it abundantly clear that I alone was responsible for his success.

”I missed so many blocks in high school, that you had no choice but to become a tough runner. You owe me everything! EVERYTHING!”

Football play runner avoiding Defense

Scott Smith (72) Preparing to Miss a Block

He laughed, or at least his emojis laughed for him, and he agreed.

I feel as though he should give me his Super Bowl ring.

Bonus Track

Much of the world is in a sports-starved state, so I’ve included this post, National Signing Day about my storied career, and  my scouting report.

Yes, it’s satire…..or is it?


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