The Washington Football Club and The Law

Updated: May 13, 2013
 By:- Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter

Sometimes it takes months, sometimes it take years, and sometimes it takes forever, for change to occur but in time change will transpire. Individuals can embrace change or fight it. Some kick and scream, However it is their choice.

We now know which road Daniel Snyder has chosen by his latest statements to the American Sports Media. So the battle begin.

The Washington Football Club and owner Mr. Daniel Snyder are currently looking at history’s window and don’t understand their legacies. Just as the Civil Right defenders and critics did 50 years ago. The Washington Football Club, Daniel Snyder, The National Football League, and Commissioner Roger Goddell should be on the positive side of history and change the name. It’s not the colors, its not the logos, but the team name has to be retired forever. Actually the logo is very majestic and honors the Native American Indian community.

On May 9, 2013 Mr. Snyder arrogance and male privilege got the best of him as he told the USA Today reporter that, “We’ll never change the name, It’s that simple NEVER — you can use caps”. 

Not so fast my friend. The NFL and its commissioner may have been complicit, dealing with the Washington Football Club’s controversy.

1) It is time to take the NFL and Commissioner Goddell to task and sue for defamation of character and slander to the Native American Nation.

2) It is time for other minorities to support our Native American Brothers and Sisters in the battle for honor and respect.

3) It is time to strike at the heart of the Washington Football Club. That means boycotting any function held by the Club, anywhere in the United States. Do not buy any product produced by and for the Washington Football Club.

4) Deny entry to public access roads to the stadium because it in support of the Washington Football Club.  

The limited political power of Native American Indians is one of the reasons why Mr. Snyder and the Washington Football Club get away with the name.

The limited monetary access by the Native American Indian communities limits the ability to create positive public opinion. There are no political action committee to put this issue on the American agenda in Washington D.C.

As my friend Cowboy Reggie Howell from radio station WCLM 1450- Richmond, Virginia, states many times “FOLLOW THE MONEY”. If you don’t give this organization the money they cannot function. Just ask the people of Montgomery, Alabama about the Bus Boycott of the late 1950’s. The Bus Company thought they could survive without African American ridership and monies, the boycott worked. The Montgomery Bus Company found out the hard way. Maybe the Washington Football Club needs another historical lesson.

The political push is on again to change the name of this historic football franchise that began in the city of Boston in 1937. A team that became the flagship franchise of the South until the mid 1970’s. The Boston Braves Football Club became the Boston Redskins because the teams 1st owner George Preston Marshall did not want his team to be confused with the Boston Braves Baseball Club.

The Washington Football Club is getting seized upon from three different legal entities. The Washington D.C. City Council, The United States House of Representatives, and an intelligent Navajo female in the state of Arizona. Hopefully, one of these three will be victorious in their battle against the Washington Football Club.

In April 2013, The City Council of Washington D.C. and Councilman David Grosso spearheaded a city resolution to change the name of the football club to the Washington Red Tails in honor of the Tuskegee Institute Airmen. That suggestion went over like a wet blanket for owner Daniel Snyder. Pressure has also come from Mayor Vincent C. Gray (no-relations) to change the image of the football club since it has been on the rise in the NFC Eastern Conference. Mayor Gray has stated that if the Club moves back into the city limits of Washington the name issue must be discussed.

“District residents and their elected representatives should not tolerate commercial or other use of derogatory terminology relating to any people’s racial identity, or which dishonors any person’s race, or which dishonors the name Washington.”


“Washington’s name has been dishonored by association with the word ‘Redskins,’ because it is well known in America and in nations afar that American Indians have experienced utmost suffering and disrespect over the years.”


Grosso told the Post  “That a change to the Red Tails would be relatively seamless”.

 If the football club wants to also change the mascot the Red Tail Hawk would be a fine addition.  

In March 2013 The United States House of Representatives got involved with a bill, called the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013, if passed, would strip the Washington football team of its trademarked name and put a stop to its exclusive profiteering from using the racist slur in its logo on sweatshirts, tee shirts, caps, coffee mugs, and dozens of other products flooding the market. The bill would also prohibit any future trademarks that use the offensive term. It was introduced by 12 Democrats and a lone Republican Tom Cole-Oklahoma of the Congressional Native American Caucus. 

Although the new bill would prohibit registering “redskins” as a trademark it would not stop business owners who are determined to use the racist term. They would be free under the First Amendment right of free speech to use the term “redskins” – unregistered – even though it is disparaging. That means the Washington football team could continue to use the racist slur, but it would no longer have the market cornered with an exclusive right to sell items using the name.


This argument in court has taken place since 1999 by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board which is part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This will continue with a Petition called Blackhorse vs. Pro-Football Inc. Ms. Amanda Blackhorse will litigate this issue in 2013.


Ms. Blackhorse is from the state of Arizona and will lead the fight for denying the use of the Washington Football Club’s trademark team name. The Navajo female attended Navajo Nation High School called Red Mesa High School which uses the R-word as their mascot. She strongly disagrees with her high school administration. Blackhorse sees this as the last civil rights battle in the United States. I disagree because Disabled Americans are still fighting for equality but Amanda has a point and we need to support our Native American Indian Sister.


The Blackhorse complaint:

“The term ‘redskin’ was and is a pejorative, derogatory, denigrating, offensive, scandalous, contemptuous, disreputable, disparaging, and racist designation for a Native American person …. The registrant’s use of each mark … offends petitioners, and other Native Americans, causing them to be damaged by the continued registration of the marks.”
– August 11, 2006, petition

There are still 70 high schools in this country with this despicable name. Which is surprising with the federal monies attached to operate these schools. One explanation is the majority of these high schools are Native American and on tribal lands where the issue is not raised, at least to the mainstream press.   


Just as African Americans have members in their group that are self loathing, self serving, self hating, and helping their masters, the same can be said about Native American Indians as these individuals become the spokesperson for the American public consumer.


Without political, social, and economic pressure nothing will be done. The drive for change must be continued with this kind of response by the Washington Football Club.


The partial Football Club’s response:
“Native Americans … strongly support use of the word ‘Redskins’ for the team name …. (the trademarks) symbolizing strength, virility, and courage, reflect positive attributes and thereby serve as a source of pride…. The record is devoid of proof supporting a conclusion that, as used in connection with registrant’s football services … the team marks disparaged Native Americans. Quite to the contrary, registrant’s usage has honored Native Americans, their culture, and traditions.”
– October 9, 2012, brief


The fight continues
Quotes are from:-                                                                                                 Indian Country Today Media  

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove on Disabled Community Activist. Email at

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