by Ryan Meehan
The 2014 NFL season is approaching and will be here before you know it. Thankfully, ESPN and all of the other sports networks have given us enough of a pro football methadone drip so that we will actually believe the world won’t end before the season begins. We’ve seen contracts signed, trades made, and players cut.
But there was one story that I really didn’t see coming to fruition in the Summer of 2014, although with the way that the world is currently headed I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. On June 18th of this year, the United States Patent and Trademark Registration cancelled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration due to pressure from numerous Native Americans who have been fighting for years to have the moniker changed. Even though this move won’t force the NFL team to change its name, it adds fuel to the intense fight by opponents to eliminate what they view as a racial slur against Native Americans.
This debate has been raging for over three decades now. While a great deal of Americans (a portion of the population which includes Native Americans) don’t seem to care about their continued use of a name they have used since 1932, there has been enough of a backlash that the debate has spilled over into the halls of Congress. And because we all know that the most important thing that a politician needs to do to win over constituents is to appear as if he is the most tolerant person in the world, the angry men in Washington have seen this as an opportunity to win over the Native American vote for the 2016 elections.
Politicians such as Tom Harkin and John McCain would usually have no emotional stake in whether the name of a football team would offend those of a different ethnic background. They are white, very well off, and I’m sure deep down they don’t really care. Upon first glance, you’d think that this would be something that they would actually be very reluctant to pursue considering this is the team that represents the city (or in this case district) where they work. But then when you think about it, you realize that the people that they have to satisfy are the voters in the states that they represent. So those who live in D.C. but haven’t been voted into their jobs have very little to say about the matter, and most certainly aren’t the cause of concern for career politicians.
I’ve stated before on this website many times that I think being offended by anything is something that an individual seeks out on their own. I maintain the position that the idea of a person “accidentally” being offended by anything is insulting to the collective intelligence of the rest of us. People who are offended leave their house that day with the intention of being offended, and a lot of it has to do with their desperate need for attention and desire to be a victim. Although Native Americans have gotten the shaft in this country ever since we came up with the whole “Manifest Destiny” thing, acknowledging that maybe we probably should have named the team something else eighty years ago is not going to right this wrong. It’s not even a start, and from all I’ve read the opinions amongst that ethnic group are either divided or completely impartial all together. Long story short: A lot of them don’t fucking care.
This is a “slippery slope” piece if you will. It’s a comical look at just how quickly a few people being offended by something can ruin one of America’s primary sources of entertainment. Will a majority of these changes happen? Of course not, but I’d like to start a little bit of a dialogue that suggests how quickly we can move from hard-nosed American football to “Well, if we change this, we also have to change this as well…”.
So here’s what I am going to do: I’m going to go through every NFL team and show you how it’s possible for people to be offended by every single one of their nicknames. Let’s check in right where the argument started…
All joking set aside, the name Redskins probably is offensive. Not offensive enough to go through all of the paperwork necessary to change the name of a professional football franchise, but I get it. Native Americans were shoved into remote sections of the country against their will while this country was being built, and if it hadn’t been for slavery that time period and what we did to those individuals would indeed be the darkest part of American History. So I understand this to a point, but unlike the Cleveland Indians logo the Native American man in the Washington Redskins logo appears to be very noble and proud. I’m just not sure there’s enough “derogatory” connotation going on here that we would need to change everything just to appease a select few people.
As previously stated, this argument has been raging for the better part of three decades. Still, current “social consciousness”, “political correctness” and the other terms we use to mask what is essentially hyper-sensitivity in its most severe form lead me to believe that this is the year it all finally goes down. Either way, the seed has been planted and that starts our tally off at 1/32. And if we’re going to begin here, you can probably guess where I’m headed next…
Although the term “Chiefs” is much different than the derogatory manner in which the name “Redskins” can be viewed, let’s take a step back for a second and remember what happened to Chief Illiniwek and his war dance that was performed at halftime of home football and basketball games. This was largely due to the fact that according to an August 2005 ruling by the NCAA, any school that possessed a “hostile and abusive American Indian nickname” would not be permitted to host postseason games.
So the idea that if the axe falls on the Redskins that it would soon fall on the Chiefs as well is hardly far-fetched to say the least. (My sarcastically sincerest apologies to all who have been harmed by axes) Their symbol features an arrowhead, which many tribes used to sharpen and put on the end of a stick to form a weapon called a spear. For reasons I’d rather not get into here, using the word spear is a dangerous one to discuss – and I’m not talking about the whole concussion controversy. But I would like to point out one thing…
Rantlet: Why is it that we seem to have such a big problem with calling things like we see them in this country? Many tribes of several different ethnic backgrounds have used weapons such as spears over the years. Why is it considered not politically correct to bring this up? What do we expect our kids to believe? That they fought each other with Q-tips? This is one of the biggest problems in America today: Because of “insensitivity”, we have lost the freedom to so much as mention what anything is anymore.
So if the Redskins name goes down and other names come into question the Chiefs are next. This brings our current tally to 2/32, or 1/16 when the fraction is reduced.
Teams with Animal Names: Bears, Lions, Colts, Jaguars, Falcons, Panthers, Bills, Dolphins, Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, Bengals, Ravens, Eagles, Broncos
Before we go any further here, let me explain myself because this section is going to account for almost half of the teams in the league. For years, the fine folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been complaining that everything involving animals and how they are “used” in the media is not done in a manner that satisfies their protein deficient lifestyles.
It’s a bit of a stretch, but the way that fans behave in the stands I could see how PETA could easily raise a stink about this and get some celebrity kale-huffers to Tweet out their argument. Here’s the scenario: It’s supposed to be a nice, quiet fun-filled game in Florida, on a Sunday afternoon between the Buccaneers and the Jaguars. But some assbag brings in a sign of a pirate decapitating what looks to be a poorly drawn housecat, and all of that changes. While I’m a fan of freedom of speech, I’m also aware that there are a lot of kids at these games. Also, if you pay seventy-five bucks for a seat at a pro football game and spend every break in the action holding up a sign, you’re a loser. I thought the whole reason fans bought tickets is so they wouldn’t have to do anything while they’re in there.
Likewise, we’ve all seen the mascots hanging from nooses in stadiums throughout the NFL. Nothing says you’ve gone too far like showing up to a pro football game with a fishing pole and a rope on the end of it attached to a plush doll of a Cardinal that has clearly had its tongue ripped out by someone who has enough time on their hands for children’s toy mutilation. And if you really want to avoid controversy, let’s leave the nooses back at the trailer park. While the goal here is for me to truly point out what’s not offensive, I shouldn’t need to go through late 1800’s history to tell you why the noose doesn’t exactly make a positive social statement.
So if PETA can make their voices loud enough to prove that this is a problem, they can surely say that they are offended by teams with animal names as long as fans are setting the opposing teams’ mascots on fire in the parking lot. They won’t be able to get the teams to change the names, but they can clog up the news cycle long enough to make it a temporary issue on sports talk radio. And as for the names themselves, PETA could even argue that since animals aren’t giving us permission to use their names that we are being insensitive towards them and misusing their identities. Hey, stranger things have happened.
A couple of extra notes on this one:
There are some teams in the animal category that can make for compound problems, due to the type of animal they portray. Bengals, Jaguars, Lions, and Panthers are all big cats who are constantly being hunted for their fur, so if a team’s fans bring stuffed animals of those cats with arrows through their head we could have a situation where bleacher-poaching is the new bullying.
Since the bald eagle is the symbol of this great country, I could envision someone getting really upset at a Cowboys-Eagles game where some dude in a Cowboy hat has said fishing pole from earlier example complete with a bald eagle dangling at the end of it. Then you have the ultimate confusion present, because you could have a redneck being potentially accused of displaying Anti-American sentiment. And that could cause serious problems, as Cowboys-Eagles games are usually confusing enough. I mean, you have anywhere from 66,000 to 100,000 people in the same building and none of them know how to use a fucking toilet.
The one odd man out in this category is the Buffalo Bills, because although the team is named after the western legend Buffalo Bill Cody the team’s logo depicts a bison. Upon further research this has absolutely no relation to the Buffalo area at all, given that Cody was born in LeClaire, Iowa and spent most of his life in Kansas. Talk about an F for accuracy. It’s a good thing that the Giants had already been a team for three and a half decades when the Bills were named, I’d hate to spend my Sundays rooting for the New York Cactus Lickers.
Although it’s a serious stretch, keep in mind PETA is the organization that attracts attention to themselves by pouring fake blood on people. And since Gwar isn’t going to be around anymore, they now lead the world in fake-blood related demonstrations. This brings our tally to 17/32, and just like that we’re offended by over half of the league. If you don’t think the animal one is a realistic point of debate, I can more than make up for it in our next category.
Pirates and Rapists: Raiders, Vikings, and Buccaneers
Back in the day, white men who wanted to fill their coffers with riches took to the high seas in hopes of conquering unknown portions of the globe. In their minds, the best way to do this was to make sure that the generations to come living in the lands that they took over would share their genetic makeup. And since in vitro fertilization was relatively unpopular during that period of history, forced intercourse was all the rage.
The “Pirates of the Carribean” movies are a very pastel version of what real pirates were like, dressed up for the movie viewing audience that was unaware of what really went on. The storyline cleaned up for TV and film is that pirates were after “loot” or, “booty”. It’s kind of humorous that the latter was a term for gold coins and other tender, because they wanted booty alright.
For those of you who aren’t picking up what I’m laying down here, pirates were rapists. The true Raiders and Buccaneers may have dressed like they were in some smelly 1600’s musical, but their business was dishing out the dick when there was no menu. And the Vikings of Scandanavia were even worse. I can’t possibly think of a better metaphor for a girl getting roofied at a frat party than how nations like Sweden “poked” their way around Northern Europe. It was a bunch of white dudes with blonde hair walking into houses and forcing women to have sex. Think of it this way – Swords were basically the ecstasy of the Viking era.
Rantlet: Do you know what a pegboy is? A pegboy was the name that they gave to a young shipmate that was captured right before a voyage and used as an underage sex slave. Since women were not allowed on these missions, the pirates and their crew need a way to relieve sexual tension. They found that the best way to do that was to locate a feminine looking boy and carry him onto the ship. That way when the crew got drunk after a long day of whatever it was that pirates did when they weren’t on land, they could take their frustration out on this poor unfortunate young man who could have most likely benefited from the weight training options that are available today. Did I miss anything here? Oh yeah…You’re probably wondering why they called him a pegboy. That’s because in the hours before their efforts to really touch the youth on their ship, they would place the pegboy on a peg to dilate his anus before the debauchery began. Talk about blood on the poop deck.
As you can see it would be very easy for some women’s rights group to make the case that since their ancestors’ vaginas were the ones being pillaged, maybe these names are inappropriate. I personally don’t find them to be offensive, but remember this is a how-to guide here. I’m simply showing you how it’s possible. This brings our friendly little tally to 20/32, or 5/8ths of the National Football League.
Gross Personal Disfigurements: Giants and Titans
I’ve always been a little bit disturbed by the idea of abnormally large people in general. But that’s not why these two names could be considered offensive. Over the course of time, little people have been offended by several words that mock their height. So we have to assume that somewhere on the line they will take offense to the Giants and the Titans as team names. They could make a legitimate case that suggesting someone is even bigger than bigger than them is offensive because it magnifies their disadvantage. It’s likely that their argument would fall on deaf waistlines, but it’s an excellent point nonetheless.
Additionally this one could even return to the last point, as it seems in any fictional story from history where there is a giant like figure the prize at hand is always a small woman. So there’s a misogynistic angle here just like there is with the pirates and Vikings. Didn’t Godzilla have some small young woman in his grasp while he was terrorizing the streets of Tokyo? Had Goliath defeated David in the biblical tale, I’m sure there was some sort of impregnation spoils he was set to receive upon victory. And as we all know, Jack and the Beanstalk is a friendly tale of a giant gaining the sympathy of a man’s wife, hiding in his house, and robbing him before finally killing him. Since the Titans are one of the teams in this category, you can make whatever Steve McNair joke you’d like to right here.
Just like that we’re up to 22/32, or 11/16ths for those of you who are ruler enthusiasts.
Teams with names that could be offensive to foreigners: Cowboys, Texans, Patriots
In today’s world, it seems like every day we’re hearing about something that is offensive to people from other cultures within our own country. It used to be that individuals south of the Mexican-American border were offended by certain “redneck” sensibilities, particularly their attitudes toward immigration. But now those same sensibilities are being questioned by people of Muslim faith, amongst others. That’s why for some bizarre reason, the Patriots also fall into this category.
We’re all aware of how our freedom to practice Christianity and say the pledge of allegiance in schools is dwindling with every passing day. The way I look at it, nobody is making you say the pledge of allegiance or state that this nation exists under God. The way they look at it, Pat Patriot is the same dude who jailed all of the “suspected” terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. And speaking of the Patriots, how are we going to explain that to the British when Roger Goddell officially ends up off of his rocker and puts a team in London? (If you answered “kill them”, you can officially consider yourself a Revolutionary War Buff!)
The Cowboys’ and Texans’ names not only represent stereotypes that could be offensive to people that live in those areas who aren’t rednecks, but they also represent stereotypes of the South in general. One of them is run by an old oil tycoon, and the other is run by a man who sold his corporation to Enron in 1999. I’m sure there is some group of liberals somewhere saying “You see, THAT’S whose really in control here…”, unaware that the Texans were 2-14 last year and the Cowboys may not sniff the playoffs again until Jerry Jones dies amidst the stench of his own feces.
Boss Hogg Voice: Yeeehaw! That’s a rootin’ tootin’ endorcement that indeed dem towelheads and tree-huggers could be a comin’ after our football…So we gots ourselvsa good ol’ fashioned tally of 25/32, or wen raduced ta decimull numberz, uh…, um… a whole whooodoggie of a lotta vum!!!
The Remaining Seven Teams: Jets, Packers, Saints, Chargers, Steelers, Browns, and 49ers
The remaining seven teams are the least obvious, so you’ll have to bear with me here as some of these are a longshot. Once again, keep in mind that I am explaining how others could be offended by nicknames such as these. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that I think all of this is totally ridiculous.
I can give you two examples of how someone could be offended by this name. Individuals who lost family members on 9/11 may be offended by the fact that a device used as a weapon to murder one of their family members is being used as a nickname for a team that is – coincidentally – based in the greater New York City metropolitan area. Secondly, some people of Puerto Rican decent might be offended that the “Jets” was the name of the white gang in the musical “West Side Story” that was trying to murder the “Sharks”, who were predominantly Puerto Rican. As out there as it sounds, keep in mind that the original film of West Side Story was released in 1961 as an adaptation of the Broadway musical which hit the stage in 1957. And remember that although the Jets franchise was established in 1960, they were called the New York Titans up until 1962 when the name was changed to the Jets.
The Packers could potentially be a term that is troublesome because it can be interpreted as short for “Fudgepacker”, a slur that is used to make fun of homosexual men and their practice of engaging in anal sex. I’m a little bit shocked this one hasn’t attracted more attention, as more and more people are realizing that a lot of people who they interact with in their daily lives are gay and that it has absolutely no negative effects on their production. Likewise, it doesn’t intrude on their straight lifestyle either. Another reason that I’m surprised complaints haven’t surfaced is the fact that every Bears fan struggling for insults when they lose yet again seems to yell out “Fudgepackers” in a crowded bar. This of course is a hilarious contradiction because “Bear” is a slang term that gay men use to describe other gay men who are hairy and look like bears.
Rantlet: Can we stop it with the analogies between fecal matter and chocolate? I’ve had about enough of this garbage. I can’t have a Butterfinger and safely get to my car without some nobody making a joke about how I pulled the dook out of the pool in Caddyshack and crammed it into my craw. Son of a bitch…
This is a tough one because the word “Saint” is defined as “one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness”. As stated before, it’s very easy to see how somebody who isn’t Christian could be offended by this. I think the New Orleans Saints get away with not being harassed about this due to the fact that the area was settled by the French, a nationality that is chock full of practicing Catholics.
As nuts as this one sounds, I could see someone being saddened by this if they had a relative who had been electrocuted. I don’t really have a lot on this, but I’m sure there’s some electrical workers’ union somewhere that’s pissed about it. Especially if one of their relatives did just that on an electric fence. Sit still Sparky, we’re now at 29/32nds of the way through our sad journey into false outrage.
Speaking of unions, most steelworkers are a union members which surprises me that a name like “Steelers” can make it through the ringer without little resistance. The spelling is dangerously close to being “Stealers” which might suggest that union guys are trying to bilk more money and benefits out of industry people. Then I realized that the plural form of “thief” would be “thieves” and that wouldn’t work, even though you could still make the connection. However, it does have a certain parallel to the term “Squealers” which is a derogatory term for people who are narcs or rats. So there goes your “Stop Snitchin'” campaign, Pittsburgh.
“Browns” is something that I don’t feel like I should have to explain to anybody. I know these descriptions are getting shorter as we go, but honestly you should be able to figure this one out. Almost anyone of any race that isn’t white could have a problem with this. I guess this one bothers me the most because not only is it obvious, they’re not even trying here. If I was black, I can honestly say that this would be more offensive than any other team name. I mean, if I was more black than I already am.
I have the San Francisco 49ers last on my list. That’s because I honestly thought that this was the one nickname that could not possibly have any sort of negative connotation whatsoever. To be brutally honest with you, the original title of this piece was “How to be offended by 31 out of 32 Teams” with the 49ers as my lone team. Part of me figured that because it was a number, there was absolutely no way in hell anyone could be offended by it providing they weren’t fighting that number for a sponsorship on Sesame Street.
But then I thought harder about it…I tried to place myself inside of the mindset of some of these easily offended schmucks and determine what I would think if I was constantly walking around all day looking for something to offend me. Then it hit me – The term “49er” was used to describe individuals who headed West in hopes of cashing in on the discovery of gold in that region in 1849. So essentially, they were gold diggers.
A gold digger is a term used to describe a woman whose primary interest in a man is how much money he has to spend on her with frivolous intent. The irony here is that usually most of these women already have plenty of money from previous relationships, and then it just kind of piggybacks onto the next poor sap that’s dumb enough to fall for it. But it is considered to be sexist and offensive (although completely accurate) so someone could make the argument that it’s uncool and anti-feminist, leaving our list complete at 32/32, or for you division wizards 1.0. 100% of the team names in the NFL are now offensive.
As I’m writing this, I’m reading about how Anthony Cumia got fired from Sirius XM for Tweeting something that was determined to be offensive. That’s right, half of fucking Opie and Anthony was fired for something that he did while he was off the air. If that doesn’t scare you to death, it should. Freedom of Speech is slowly disappearing in this country, and the reason that is the case is because we are becoming more and more sensitive about things that we used to glaze over. A lot of folks would say that this is a good thing because it makes us think about what we say and write, and I couldn’t disagree more. It’s nothing but an excuse to over examine all that we say and write in lieu of actual intelligence. In a sense, it’s fake intelligence due to over-sensitization in what’s become a very over-sensitized society.
And that’s the worst part about it. Because I write a lot, occasionally I will have dreams that I am reading something online that is totally ridiculous. This presents a very strange problem for me, because it’s very hard for me to tell what’s real and what’s not. Sometimes several days after I have a dream that includes such a vision, I’ll try to Google what I read and see if it was real. It’s frightening, but it’s the news cycle in which we live.
Football used to be a hard-nosed sport where excuses were not accepted and apologies were not given. It used to be a serious matter of business where grown men knew what they were getting into, and didn’t complain about the side effects. Now we are in an era where the Washington Redskins might have to become the Washington Warriors – but will that be enough to satisfy the needs of those offended? Will we eventually look at the name Warriors as being derogatory as well, and then the whole argument will start all over again?
And that’s what I’m worried about. I’m worried that if this happens once, it won’t stop. It does become a slippery slope and eventually more and more people will feel like a certain name infringes on their rights to live their life without being offended. But here’s the thing about that…
Nowhere is it written that you have the right to live life without being offended. It isn’t recorded anywhere, and with the true meaning of what it means to be offended impossible to define it likely never will be. I do know this: Now more than ever we seem to be offended by anything and everything, where it seems like just a few short years ago that would not have been the case.
So I guess if I had one thing that I’d like you to take away from this whole article, it would be to really take a look around you and enjoy the things that offend other people before it’s too late. Read a banned book, smoke a cigarette, just get out there and fucking live.
Because soon, all of those things are going to be gone.
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