Daniel Snyder's fight over Washington's nickname is a lost cause

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Eventually the nickname and logo of Washington's NFL franchise is headed to the dustbin of history, where future generations will look back in bafflement that it was ever allowed.

This is undeniable.

You can support the name and logo all you want. You can decry the excesses of political correctness (no "Dukes of Hazzard"?) You can find a Native American cloaked in an RG3 jersey in an attempt to prove your point. That's fine. This column isn't about trying to change anyone's opinion because too many opinions have already changed that it doesn't matter.

Daniel Snyder (AP)
Daniel Snyder (AP)

You can hum the fight song in your sleep and still realize that the die is cast here. It's just a matter of time. That's just being practical.

Last year, team owner Daniel Snyder declared the nickname and logo would never change. That was last year though. This year is this year and the winds of change have swept swiftly across the nation.

Last year no one would have predicted South Carolina politicians would vote in a bipartisan manner on the issue of removing the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia from the state capitol grounds. Let alone Alabama would do it via decree of its governor or the flag would become so toxic that even a couple of anti-establishment cousins such as Bo and Luke Duke would be banished from the airwaves. Hate it or not, it happened.

This is a whole new day and Daniel Snyder is on the wrong side of quickly moving public sentiment.

That's the backdrop to Wednesday's decision by U.S. District Court in Virginia, ruling against Snyder and affirming a 2014 Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision that deemed the name and logo offensive to Native Americans and thus ineligible for trademark protection.

How fast are things moving? In his ruling, Judge Gerald Bruce Lee rejected the franchise's First Amendment argument. He cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the state of Texas to ban Confederate battle flags on license plates. That decision came last month.

Washington can appeal again and it's worth noting, that even if it loses all its legal challenges, the franchise can still continue to use the name and logo. No one can make it go away. It just becomes more difficult to protect exclusivity of the brand. Others can likely use the term also, allowing them to cut into merchandise sales, marketing and so on.

The ruling hits the bottom line, of both Washington and the NFL, which enjoys revenue sharing and thus is in position to pressure Snyder.


"This is a huge victory," attorney Jesse Witten, who represents Native Americans, told the Washington Post. "Getting this ruling from a U.S. District judge is a watershed event. The team has been fighting this case so hard and leaving no stone unturned and scorching every square inch of earth that it's hard to imagine they will not appeal."

It is hard to imagine they won't appeal. Then again, it was hard to imagine how quickly views changed on symbols of the Confederacy, where even a couple months ago just broaching the subject was considered a political third rail in certain places. Or how hard it was to foresee businesses distancing from Donald Trump so quickly, or the public embracing marriage equality or everything else that is happening in 2015.

Sometimes these things all come in an avalanche and the rocks sure are sliding right now. The battles will undoubtedly continue, but the so-called Culture War is over. The question is if Snyder is smart enough to realize it.

If anything, the District Court decision gives Snyder an easy out. He can throw up his hands and blame activist judges and overreaching bureaucrats, and find a new name without looking weak. Such a move would save him from historical scorn for defending what society increasingly sees as bigoted.

[ThePostGame: Judge cites Iverson 'practice' rant in his Washington trademark ruling]

Last year Snyder went on ESPN and declared that his franchise's moniker wasn't a racial slur that some see it as, but actually a symbol of "honor" and "respect." He claimed it wasn't denigrating Native Americans but celebrating them.

"We sing 'Hail to the Redskins.' We don't say hurt anybody. We say 'Hail to the Redskins. Braves on the warpath. Fight for old D.C.' We only sing it when we score touchdowns."

He said critics don't understand the history behind the image and are confused and have taken everything out of context.

"A Redskin is a football player," Snyder continued. "A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride. Hopefully winning. And, and, it, it's a positive. Taken out of context, you can take things out of context all over the place. But in this particular case, it is what it is. It's very obvious."

This sounds exactly like the old defense of Confederate symbols that is losing momentum by the day. Oh, some will always make it, some will always believe it, but when the tipping point comes, most smartly retreat.

Is Snyder going to continue to dig in on such a position when the earth he is digging has moved so swiftly underneath him? Does he want to be remembered as the last crusader?

Daniel Snyder is a billionaire businessman, not a politician, so his motivations and ability to ignore public outcry are completely different. It's his team.

He can stand his ground and he can fight this fight. That's America. And if he does it will be riveting to watch.

Even those who will cheer him on for it though have to rationally realize that the deal is done here.

The country isn't changing. It's changed.

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