Tom Cole Warns the Redskins….

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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41 Responses

  1. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Good for Tom Cole! But I think as long as seven in ten or so think they should keep the name, I expect the impact to be limited.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Snyder seems to keep shooting himself in the foot on this, no doubt. Personally speaking, I’m not all that interested in whether the Redskins change their name or not – tho given the location I’d actively support calling them the “Washington Grifters”. And I say that fully well knowing that my neutrality on the topic makes me complicit in the commission of grave harms. I’m alright with that, too. I can’t help but think, however, that the fact Snyder keeps sticking his thumb in the eye of his detractors with ever increasing force is evidence that he wants to … well, stick his thumb in their eye, and not amicably resolve the issue. He might be a real smart guy and all, but he seems ignorant of some useful concepts. Someone needs to tell him what the word “politics” means.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I tend to think that from a pure business perspective, he’s probably doing the right thing. At least until the poll numbers change or it starts having a negative impact somehow. They have a lot of money invested in the name and iconography.Report

      • From a pure business perspective, I agree that he has an incredibly heavy interest in maintaining the name and iconography. Where he- and his organization- keeps shooting himself in the foot is in the particularly arrogant and abrasive way that he keeps responding, which probably does as much to keep the issue in the public eye (and thus to turn public opinion slowly against him) as anything else.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It’s a good thing Snyder’s a billionaire, because how else could hevmake a living?Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        Does it really matter that much? If they change the name, fans will buy the new gear. The Orioles weren’t hurt by changing their iconography in the 90s. If anything, it will goose sales in the short-term and be neutral in the long term.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @will-truman “I tend to think that from a pure business perspective, he’s probably doing the right thing.”

        I’m not so sure. I see where that might end up being the case, of course, but it seems like now we have a ton of examples of sports teams who used changes in name, location, or iconography to greatly increase revenues. Ask the NBA’s Chaparrals, Bullets and Hornets if their ticket and merchandise sales went up or down the years immediately following their becoming the Spurs, Wizards, & Pelicans.

        My own alma mater is a great example of what changing iconography can mean. When they looked to completely change its iconography in the 90s, it was a huge controversy. Alumni swore that if the university went with its proposed lone “O” they would stop donations and give up their season tickets; the athletic director even received death threats. The year after they made the change, merchandise and ticket sales skyrocketed. Now there practically change everything on a weekly basis.

        So I’m not entirely sure I buy that it has to be a loser from a business perspective.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        There are some professional sports teams wherein the iconography and name don’t matter as much. The Redskins are not such a franchise, however. They rely very heavily on tradition and recognition in a way that the Houston Texans do not. The Cowboys vs Redskins cannot be replaced very easily with Cowboys vs Sentinels. Their profile and brand would be greatly diminished and as the Redskins they are among the giants. If that were easily replaced by a bunch of new uniforms, they’d have done that a long time ago. They’d have uniforms-of-the-week like college programs often do. They’ve essentially had the same uniform for forty years through thick and thin, with the only helmet change (or alternative helmet) being a switch to a helmet that they wore before that. They’re heavily rooted in their history in a way that few baseball teams are not. The indian head, and the name, are a part of that.

        It also varies from league to league. MLB has found that they can constantly change their caps and it’s good for sales because people will keep buying new ones. That doesn’t apply so much in football which is why there is more consistency. With college it’s about standing out in a system with 50+ programs and alternative uniforms help with recruiting, or at least schools believe they do.

        So the NFL in general has not found it worthwhile to change their uniforms as much. And among the NFL, some teams have a lot more invested in their brand than others. The Redskins, like the Cowboys, are pretty high on that list.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Thing is, once the senior member of the House Appropriations Committee starts warning you about your entire league’s tax exempt status, it stops being solely about Snyder and about the NFL as a whole.

        If I’m Roger Goodell, I’d tell Snyder to sit down and shut up, because inviting lots of public scrutiny on the NFL’s sweetheart tax status is a great way to go down a business road they don’t want to touch.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        As long as the name remains relatively popular, though, I don’t see a huge legislative threat there. If they can change that (either the popularity or demonstrating that the threat is very real despite the popularity), that changes.

        I don’t disagree with what others have said about Snyder himself and his approach to the issue. That isn’t helping. But at present, I’m not seeing a name change in the Redskins near future. If it happens, it will be when Snyder sells and the NFL steps in and makes changing the name a precondition of purchasing the team (though I don’t know if the NFL can make such demands the way that MLB demanded that the Astros change leagues).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        MLB was able to do that only because they made it a condition on the pending sale of the Astros.Report

      • Avatar trumwill says:

        (That’s what I was saying. )Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        So it is.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I have a hunch that Snyder knows he is on the losing side of history and dignity on this one
      but has no way out and saving face at the same time. So he is going to double down as much as humanly possible until then.

      Maybe we need to work on mechanisms for letting people do the right thing and also letting them save face.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    No one considers the Senator’s letter to be a gross abuse of Senatorial power? Hell, they aren’t even DC’s senators (not that they have any), so who the F are they to think they have any say in the matter? Oh yeah, the tax thing. This is what happens when you get the gov’t involved in your business-you find out you just lost a lot of control….Report

    • Avatar RTod says:

      FWIW, this was the exact chain of thinking I went through when I first read Nob’s post.

      Though I admit I framed it as “demand preferential treatment because your business is somehow America’s business.” But I do think we’re on the same page, Damon.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      So Damon, I take it you believe the NFL should not receive special treatment? That their exemption should be revoked, yes? Because they’ve only GOT the exemption because ‘government is involved in their business’.

      I’m okay with that. I’d also push for revoking their anti-trust exemption. No reason the NFL needs special, meddling government intrusion. They can adhere to the same laws as everyone else.

      Problem solved, eh?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        Correct. The NFL should not have any anti trust exemption or receive any special treatment.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        It is hard to take an organization seriously as a non-profit when it’s top official pulls in $30M a year.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        So then I’m not seeing the abuse of government power here.

        Government money comes with government strings, yes? Especially so for nebulous exemptions to common law.

        The NFL is perfectly free to hand over it’s education exemption, pay the full tax rate like everyone else, and do whatever it wants.

        However, they can’t claim “We’re educational” and then act surprised when someone says “Educational with a racist name? That’s not gonna fly. Pick your exemption or your name, but not both”.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Exactly. They the NFL or the Redskins are free to tell the senator “go piss up a rope”. But when you take someone else’s money, you become subject to their influence and capriciousnessReport

  4. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Tom Cole is from Oklahoma, the state with one of the highest shares of Native American residents, so I would file this under “local official panders to constituents” rather than treat him as a representative of conservative ideology on this issue. That said, this is an issue that really shows off the good side of pandering. Good for him!Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I hope that Michael Sam doesn’t end up playing for the Redskins.Report

  6. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    It’s hard to see any justification for the NFL having a tax exemption on “educational” grounds. They’re a big-time sports league, not a university.Report

  7. Avatar William White says:

    I’d like to thank Oklahoma Rep (R) Tom Cole for placing such minor issues such as the economy, unemployment, health care, and immigration on the bank burner, and concentrate on such an important matter such as the name of a football team. I’m sure the name change will immediately erase the overwhelming issues of poverty, unemployment, education, and substance abuse that affects a large portion of our Native American citizens.

    While your at it Tom, PLEASE DEMAND that Notre Dame change its team nickname “The Fighting Irish” to something else. It make those of us Americans of Irish heritage sound like a bunch of brawling drunken louts. Its just its just so horribly demeaning, keeps me awake at night and robs me of my identity as a “productive” American. Perhaps you should join the ranks of the unemployed that you conservatives so dearly love to hate, because the unemployed are lazy and don’t take care of the important matters in life. Oh shucks, that sounds more like Congress than anyone else.Report