Should we applaud someone for doing the right thing, even if it took far too long for them to do it? That's the question many people might have upon the news that the NFL's Washington franchise has decided to "retire" their offensive nickname in favor of a new one. While the impetus for the change was largely the potential of losing sponsor dollars rather than responding to social pressures or basic notions of civility, the end result is one that most feel is long overdue, given that the campaign to change the name predates the Black Lives Matter and related movements considerably. But while the decision to change the name may have been easy in this particular moment, the actual process may prove to be harder.
Contained within the Washington Post story about the decision to change the name is the tidbit that the new name of the franchise has yet to be announced because the preferred option for the name is "tied up in a trademark battle." While it's unclear what that preferred name is, the long-running fight over the team's name has given ample opportunity for enterprising minds to squat upon countless options, with the intent to either disrupt the process or, more likely, to extract some financial gain from the franchise.
Indeed, there seems to be one individual who had the foresight to see the change coming, even when team owner Dan Snyder vowed to never change the team name. Pro Football Talk chronicles one Martin MacCaulay, who, back in 2015, filed for a half-dozen trademarks for potential team names, including the Washington Monuments and Washington Americans. The article also notes several others who have made more recent filings for potential names.
Scrambling for a new name that isn't trademarked might be seen as a natural consequence of having to take such a drastic step in so short a time, although it does beg the question as to why the decision had to be sudden at all. Given how long the controversy over the nae has been bubbling, it would have been easy to start the process sooner, get the trademarks squared away, and made an announcement at a time when it might have seemed like you were doing the right think and not simply bowing to the potential loss of revenue. Then again, Dan Snyder doesn't exactly have a reputation for doing the right thing, but rather for quite often doing the wrong thing.
Call it karma, call it fate, but whatever the reason, Washington's scramble to negotiate trademarks in finding a new name feels like a well-earned bit of misery for the franchise, if not its long-suffering fans.