The blatantly offensive Washington Redskins name is going to be history sooner than later. The question will be what will replace it? Will it be safe and sanitized? The Warriors? Hogs? Pigskins? Or is there an opportunity for something much more interesting? A name and a uniform design that could be more challenging and act as a teaching tool, something where social justice could be at the forefront of the concept. So I gave myself a design challenge. I came up with eight different team names and designed a helmet for each one over a two-week span. I also wrote up the pros and cons for each one.
Team name/helmet concept: Brings attention to Native sovereignty rights. Imagery: Turtle Island graphic on both sides of the helmet. Center stripe: Two Row wampum belt.
pros: Name and imagery would act as a teaching tool: Turtle Island is the Haudenosaune (Iroquois) name and oral history for how the North American continent was formed – on the back of a giant turtle. The Two Row Belt is a wampum belt that the Mohawk first gave to the Dutch in 1613 and later the English, French, and Americans that represents the separate and equal coexistence of Native and non-Native peoples, two distinct people sharing the same continent, and a treaty that the Haudenosaunee view as permanent.
cons: Reduces Native peoples, cultures, and history to a mascot despite the name attempting to be respectful; Sovereignty might be confused with the Revolutionary War and U.S. sovereignty from the British; Imagery focuses too much on the Haudenosaunee.
probability of name (0-10): 0.1
Washington Red Power
Team name/helmet concept: Brings attention to the 1970s Red Power movement – specifically the takeovers of Alcatraz Island, the BIA building in Washington DC, and the 71 day occupation of Wounded Knee; Imagery: AIM (American Indian Movement) symbol on both sides of the helmet; Helmet sticker on the back: BIA (representing the AIM takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Building in Washington DC in 1972 that took place at the culmination of the Trail of Broken Treaties.)
pros: Invitation for the public to learn more about the Red Power Movement; Red Power name would be the compete antithesis of the Redskins name; Helmet design utilizes a minimal design to its advantage: simple and to the point.
cons: Same as the Sovereignty name/helmet: Don’t use Native names or imagery for sports teams. Reduces Native peoples, cultures, and history to a mascot; Worse: it reduces a movement to a mascot; Oversimplifies the complexities of the Red Power Movement; Logo could be misunderstood: could be seen by some as a caricature – similar to the hyper-offensive imagery employed by the Cleveland Indians: Chief Wahoo.
probability of name (0-10): 0
Washington Winter Soldiers
Team name/helmet concept: Bring attention to issues of G.I. resistance – the Winter Soldier hearings staged in Detroit by Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971 and the Winter Soldier hearings held in Maryland by Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2008. Logos of both groups would be on opposite sides of the helmet.
pros: The NFL loves celebrating the armed services yet rarely does it extend beyond hyper-patriotism and blind support. The Winter Soldiers name would promote a more in-depth discussion about issues of war and peace; Name would promote more discussion about VVAW, IVAW, and the issues facing veterans today – including PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual assault.
cons: Winter Soldiers name would be grossly misunderstood and turned into hyper patriotism and blind support.
probability (0-10): 0
Washington Bonus Marchers
Team name/helmet concept: Bring attention to the Bonus Army – the 43,000-plus WWI vets who marched from across the country to Washington D.C. in 1932 to camp out in front of the U.S. Capital demanding a cash-payment redemption of their service certificates. The standoff ended when President Hoover ordered Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur to clear the veterans’ campsite with the use of force – infantry troops and six tanks. The lasting image of the event was that of the military using force against its own veterans and a “Hooverville” set up before the U.S. Capital during the Great Depression.
pros: Inform the public about a forgotten history; a Washington DC connection.
cons: The helmet design stinks. It makes the historical past seem boring.
probability (0-10): O
Washington Drone Strikes
Team name/helmet concept: Obvious: critique the use of predator drones. Helmet design: a predator drone and a target on both sides. Back of the helmet: Similar to some college helmets, specific players would get “drone” stickers for exceptional play.
pros: Very few except the possibility of the team being nicknamed The Strike which would inadvertently reference labor.
probability (0-10): 0.1
Washington Bad Brains
Team name/helmet concept: Duh. Celebrate one of the all time great hardcore punk bands to ever come out of D.C. scene: Bad Brains. Helmet Design: the lightning bolt logo from their debut album. Back of the helmet: “Banned in D.C.”
pros: Where to start: This name and the helmet alone would make the world forget that the Redskins name ever existed. It would transform football. Game day experiences would be unbelievable: hardcore music pumped in between every change of downs. When the adrenaline had hit the max, the players and the audience would be hit by reggae! In short, it would be just like a Bad Brains concert. Players and fans would not know what to do: extreme aggression followed by momentary breaks of chill time. Reefer everywhere. H.R. would become a household name, maybe even the coach. The crowd would chant “I Against I.” Pro sports would never be the same. Plus who wouldn’t want to see a helmet design of a lightning bolt hitting the Capital and the words “Banned in D.C.” on the back of a helmet. The name Bad Brains could also be astute commentary about the politicians on Capital Hill.
cons: Punks will cry sell-out; Bad Brains has probably already copyrighted the logo; Some might associate the name with concussions which might not necessarily be a bad thing.
probability (0-10): 0.2
Team name/helmet concept: Bring attention to just how insanely dangerous playing football is. Helmet design: A brain on both sides. Back of the helmet: a brain plus 4,800-plus representing the number of former players who have joined a class action suit against the NFL and the helmet manufacturers for dementia and other serious health problems, mostly related to concussions.
pros: Would players hit each other so hard if this was the helmet design and the team name?
cons: The death nail to the game. That said making player safety the number one priority should always be the top priority. If you ask me: the best helmet is no helmet or the leather helmets of the past. That would change the game. Make it less violent.
probability (0-10): 0
Team name/helmet concept: Celebrate the March on Washington in 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; Celebrate the Civil Rights Movement; Celebrate all the demonstrations and marches that have ever taken place in D.C. throughout the decades/centuries; Celebrate a country where free speech and the right to assembly and protest the government is built into the fabric of the Constitution. Helmet design: a ghost image of the 1963 March on Washington.
pros: Everything. The name and the helmet is a thing of beauty. I started this design project as a means to critique both the Redskins name and the sanitized world of professional sports and corporate culture, and somehow landed on a gem that might actually make sense. A name and helmet that would right a wrong and be embraced by many, not just in D.C., but around the country. So, what do you say Daniel Snyder? It might just cast the image of your team in a positive light.
cons: None. Not a single one.
probability (0-10): 2
team names/helmet designs by Nicolas Lampert, June 2014.
Peck School of the Arts, Department of Art and Design
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Writing and Critical Thinking / Printmaking
Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative: