Watch What Football Looks Like Without a Redskins Logo
You might not have to wait until Super Bowl Sunday to see the best football ad of the year.
Days before car and beer giants will air their glitzy game-day ads for another year, the National Congress of American Indians has released a spot of its own online—the latest salvo attempting to get the Washington Redskins to change its mascot and name.
The “Take It Away” spot features a glorious play by quarterback Robert Griffin III on a field digitally scrubbed of the team's controversial identity. The message: Football is still football without the Redskins logo.
It’s a smart ad, in part because it counters the argument that giving up the Redskins mascot will dampen fan loyalty. It’s also so subtle you’ll have to watch it twice. See for yourself:
The video, produced by the creative agency Goodness Mfg., comes after a decades-long campaign to change the team’s name that has won the support of some legislators and even measured encouragement from President Barack Obama.
In May 2013, 10 members of Congress wrote a letter to the National Football League and Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, urging them to rethink the Redskins moniker, which they described as a “racial, derogatory slur” against American Indians. NFL Chairman Roger Goodell defended the name as a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” Not so, according to NCAI President Brian Cladoosby, who says that the logo honors an ugly chapter in American history, "the genocide committed against Native Americans."
His organization raised more than $22,000 on Kickstarter to produce the commercial, a follow-up to last year's "Proud to Be" video that listed many names American Indians are proud of—"Redskins" not among them.
"This year, we took a different tact," says Eric Christy Manchester, creative director of Goodness Mfg. "We wanted to prove that if you take away the offensiveness of the mascot, what you're still left with is all the great memories, traditions, and highlights of the Washington professional football team."
Plus, as my colleague Ira Boudway pointed out, rebranding the team could make good business sense. A refresh would make news, signal a positive fresh start, give the franchise new merchandise to sell, and increase the value of old memorabilia.
Snyder, who purchased the franchise in 1999, has vowed not to budge, in spite of Obama's encouragement to do so. Back in October 2013, the sports fan-in-chief said, “If I were the owner of the team, and I knew that there was a name of my team—even if it had a storied history—that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
The Washington Redskins isn't the only sports team that has drawn NCAI fire. In 2001, the group released a poster (above) juxtaposing the Cleveland Indians with two imaginary teams—the San Francisco Chinamen and the New York Jews—to highlight that stereotypes of American Indians are better tolerated. "Because it's against the Natives, it's allowed to happen," Cladoosby said.