Rename the Redskins? Why Don’t We Rename the Eagles?

As Ben Franklin once said, the bird is “of a bad moral character.”

Eagles Helmet

All this noise about the Washington Redskins’ name makes me want to feather up and hit the warpath.

The latest politically correct paleface to join the drumbeat is NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who did his bit during halftime of the Redskins-Cowboys game on Sunday Night Football. Costas broke no new ground, opining that “Redskins” was a slur to Native Americans and should be changed.

As far as I’m concerned, Costas and all the other sanctimonious crybabies have left the reservation.


The Redskins have been around since 1932. Owner Dan Snyder would rather become a human tackling dummy than change the name of his team. Not gonna happen on his watch.

So why is this suddenly a cause celebre in our nation’s capital, home to the most rabid fans this side of the Eagles? If it’s so damn important, why aren’t Native Americans in an uproar, or, at the very least, picketing every game at FedExField?

Because, according to reports, a majority of them are cool with it. Absent an organized lobby by Native Americans, there is less impetus for change. (Other minorities in a similar situation arguably would be far more vocal.) Moreover, having the torch carried almost exclusively by non-tribal types appears patronizing.

Changing the name of a team, for any reason, presents huge challenges in pro sports, particularly for older franchises. When it’s a question of relocation, it must be done. (See Baltimore Ravens, et. al.) When it’s an attempt to conform to some sense of political correctness, all bets are off.

It is in that spirit, therefore, that I offer this modest proposal: If the Redskins cave to the P.C. Police, all 31 other NFL teams should change their names, too, beginning with the Eagles. Yes, the Iggles.

So what if the Eagles have been the Eagles since they began in 1933, founded as a replacement for the bankrupt Frankford Yellow Jackets? (Now there’s an image.) It’s never too late to right a wrong. And I say it’s all wrong for an NFL team to exploit an animal that holds deep spiritual meaning for–wait for it–Native Americans.

Some tribes see eagles as metaphysical messengers between humans and gods, some as a symbol of peace. Eagle feathers are used in traditional ceremonies and customs. They adorn headdresses, clothing, hand-held fans. They’re awarded as honors.

Eagles don’t belong on the ground, anyway. They’re sky creatures, whose phenomenal eyesight makes them natural drones. (Fun Fact: Female eagles are larger than males. Drone amongst yourselves.)

On the other hand, eagles have their dark sides. They steal prey from other predators, and they are notorious scavengers. No less a light than our own Ben Franklin once described them as birds "of bad moral character." And he had never met Michael Vick.

So I say drop the Eagles name, Philadelphia. As for a replacement, I hear "Redskins" might be available.

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  • chris

    What a dumb article.

  • Runner6

    This is without doubt the most poorly written argument for keeping a racial slur as the nickname for the pro football team that plays in the nation’s capital. Were you paid, Ms. Shister, or is this a blog post freebie? Either way, not a good effort. Perhaps a little research next time would help. I’m embarrassed for you.

    • Fishlegs

      It’s Philadelphia Magazine TRYING to be controversial. I agree it is embarrassing.

  • PhillyRocks

    The Washington Redskins should remove the word Washington from it’s team name because it is embarassing.

    • Phifer Fuqua

      Speaking of embarrassing … does Philly Mag pay Gail Shister for this dreck? She can be forgiven for not being a great writer. And for not being funny. And for not thinking deep thoughts. But couldn’t she at least spend a few minutes with the Google to get a better understanding of the history of the controversy?

  • Jason M. Carfagno

    This is unacceptable article for any publication. Ms. Shister needs to be prohibited from continuing to write for Philly Mag. I’m afraid her views will only harm Philadelphia’s reputation.

    • HowboutdemIggles

      They already hate you guys for Santa. I’m an Eagles fan from Portland.

    • Woe is Moe

      Wow, you want to blackball this person for writing about something as ridiculously trivial as the name of a football team. I suppose if she wrote a pro-life article you’d want her executed.

  • Chelsea

    This is a really poorly written editorial- kind of embarrassing to be considered part of your publication.There is no valid argument, no rational suggestion- just an ignorant writer with no real stock in the debate putting a worthless complaint in.

    Also, American Bald Eagles are native to the area, which is most likely why the name was chosen. They represent positive images in Native American culture- the name Redskin does not. Obvious observation, but one you couldn’t see I guess

  • SS

    Hey, thanks for marginalizing racism!

  • Facebook User

    Philly Mag as troll. My how the mighty have fallen… and I don’t want to hear any crap about how we’re not smart enough to “get” the satire. This may want to be satire, but it’s just crap. Stunned this is written by Gail Shister.

  • Bodizzle

    “Redskins” is absolutely a racial slur. Although I don’t know if it’s a big enough issue to cause a name change. In my opinion, it’s similar to “negro”; not the worst “n” word, but definitely one you’d want to steer clear of. Either way, this article was, at best, ridiculous.

  • Stu Gotz

    If they change Washington, they should change KC too…and while they are at it, change NE, too as it is offensive to Liberals

    • CurrentlyUnknown

      You do know the Chiefs are named after a person…right? Not after Native Americans….

      Also…anyone else notice that Gail Shister is apparently a closet Redskins fan? D.C. has “the most rabid fans this side of the Eagles?” Uh…have you been down there for a game? They’re mostly just sad. Seattle, SF, Foxboro…hell probably Denver.

  • Guest

    Let’s change the name of the liberal p.c. police to “sissified nannying douche-bags”. We name our sports teams after things that inspire bravery and toughness. Indians, majestic animals, local industry, etc. The name of any team is reverential. The Redskins name is too. After countless frontier battles we found the way they fight to be brave and inspirational. You know… The BRAVES! Land of the free home of the BRAVE. Ok that’s not exactly what Francis meant, but you get the idea. We don’t name our teams after things we hate. We aren’t the Philadelphia Bags of Dog Sh*t, are we.

    So to those that think you know better than all of us and therefore need to protect us from everything offensive. (Even when the alleged offended party has stated that they aren’t offended.) I say crawl back in that bubble-world you live in. We don’t need your NANNYING!

    • Guest

      P.S. Bob Costas. WTF was that?

  • theguywhoknowswhatawhoreis

    this ranks right up there with the most idiotic stories i have ever read. gail, you are an idiot. are you trying to funny? if so, that could maybe explain it. but i think you are just a dumb ass, with a dumb ass opinion. get well soon

  • Vincent Gaitley

    Washington ‘Skins? Red Tapes? Then change Notre Dame Fighting Irish (since I and two others are offended) to the Fighting Episcopalians–the Church has changed so much.

  • Stephen J. Marmon

    Remember, Ben Franklin wanted the national bird to be the turkey. So should we call the team the Philadelphia Turkeys?

  • Tom Cardella

    Love your writing , Gail, but you shouldn’t be equating changing the name of our team with the derogatory name of Washington. I don’t agree that the name change won’t happen on Dan Snyder’s watch because there is lots of pressure on the Commissioner and he appears to be leaning toward the name change. if that happens, Snyder will be forced to cave because if there is anything the NFL hates worse than bad publicity, it hasn’t been invented yet.

    As far as Eagles not belonging on the ground, does that mean the Dolphins must change their name because the actual Dolphins live in the water? Besides the NFL lives through the air anyway.

  • Joseph Haas

    I am sure this column was meant as satire. In case it wasn’t, I’d like to note that Bert Bell, one of the founding fathers of the NFL, named the team the Eagles out of a sense of patriotism and also in support of FDR’s New Deal, which also used the Eagle as a symbol. That our NFL team is called the Eagles is something I am endlessly proud of.
    Honestly, I hope the Washington team does not change its name. I mean, should they? Of course, they should. It should have happened years ago. But I have always hated that team and rather like seeing them be an obvious, odious villain. May it continue.

    • MamaMoxley

      Thank you Joseph, I was just about to point out the FDR connection.

  • wtfphillymag

    It’s satire…but it’s dreadful. Unfunny, poorly written, goes nowhere. Maybe the worst article I’ve ever read.

  • billypennjr

    How does someone without the ability to understand the difference between the r-word and chief get to be a writer for this rag. Like it or not, Philadelphia Magazine is a representation to others of the morals and ethics of Philadelphians, but luckily, very few of us. I’ve almost quit my subscriptions before, based on other racially charged and/or inappropriate articles. This is the end of the line for me. PM, go drown in your racism and stupidity and let the rest of us celebrate ALL the people who make up our community and country.

    • Woe is Moe

      Good thing the real Billy Penn wasn’t as hyper sensitive as you are, or this land would still be unsettled. “Representation of the morals and ethics…” Are you kidding? Says who?

  • BB

    Very feeble attempt at satire. Comes across as ignorant and unfocused, and the resulting lack of humor seems to be lost on the writer. I don’t usually comment on these things, but this is an embarrassing viewpoint to be associated with Philly mag and the city as a whole.

  • Rich-D

    The article is tongue-in-cheek, no need for to get so upset! Geez!

  • http://www.highstrungloner.com/ HighStrungLoner

    Yeah, Gail. Maybe The Eagles should change their name to The Dykes.

  • Woe is Moe

    Chelsea, lighten up will you. It is supposed to be humorous. And there IS a rational suggestion in the article: leave the name alone and stop trying to make something out of nothing.

  • White People Annoy Me

    Philadelphia Magazine continues to prove that it doesn’t hire journalists; only thirteen year olds who giggle about racism…but then again this is directed at yuppie Main Liners anyway.

  • ticklescratch

    I believe Mr. Franklin would have preferred the “Turkeys”

  • Peter Catino

    Rename the Giants. Short people get angry. Rename the Chargers. People who use cash get angry. Rename the Raiders. Do Somali pirates get angry? Rename the Vikings. We don’t want to anger Scandanavians. Rename the Patriots. We don’t want to anger people from London who watch the game at Wembley Stadium. Rename the Bears. Bear attack survivors hate the name. Rename the Jets. Jets are bad for the enviroment.

  • Moore812

    What an idiot. The Redskins name refers only to the color of my skin. I don’t have an issue with “Chiefs” or “Braves” or “Warriors”. If you don’t think the name is offensive, then go to your local rec center and tell them you want to start a new team called the “Blackskins, the “Dark skins” or the “High Yellas”….be sure to get back to me with the response you get.