Hail to the ‘Pigskins’? Two newspapers now refuse to use Washington’s football name

18 Oct

There's long been arguments about the political correctness of the Washington Redskins' nickname -- some feel that it is a pejorative term, and many Native Americans find it offensive. The "Redskins" nickname was given to the team in 1933 by then-owner George Preston Marshall, supposedly in recognition of head coach Lone Star Dietz, who may have been part Sioux. That Marshall was a known and avowed racist who greatly opposed the integration of the NFL doesn't do a lot for the argument that the team's nickname is an innocent conceit.

The Kansas City Star has long refused to use the "Redskins" nickname in its football coverage, and now, a newspaper closer to the team has followed suit. The Washington City Paper has decided to use the term "Pigskins" instead of "Redskins" when writing about the home team. The Washington City Paper is an alternative weekly with a circulation estimated in 2009 at 71,000. The new name was decided by a poll of the paper's readers.

From the City Paper's City Desk:

Over the last week, 1,125 of you voted on which of five names we should go with, and Pigskins—a.k.a. Hogs, in a tribute to the team's great offensive line of the first Joe Gibbs era—stiff-armed the competition like John Riggins did to Don McNeal in Super Bowl XVII. The name won 50 percent of the vote. Washington Monuments came in a distant second, with 16 percent; Washington Bammas got 13 percent, Washington Half-Smokes, 11 percent, and Washington Washingtons 10 percent. There were a few late entries that we liked, such as the Washington RG3skins—inspired by the quarterback's touchdown run last Sunday—and the Washington Americans.

I like the Washington Half-Smokes, but that's just me. Here's what I want to know: How long will it take for various animal rights activists to muster up a cauldron of outrage over a new nickname that isn't exactly vegan? You can go right down your own drain with this PC stuff, though there's more merit to the objections in this case, if you know about the man who named the team.

"I remain unconvinced by every argument I've ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple," Derek Donovan, the Star's public editor, wrote in a recent column. "And I'll even break my usual rule about commenting on issues outside The Star's journalism to say that I find it inconceivable that the NFL still allows such a patently offensive name and mascot to represent the league in 2012."

[Related: Redskins implement protection plan for Robert Griffin III]

Mike Madden of the City Paper agreed.

Yes, we realize opinion is split among Native Americans over the issue. But we have a hard time imagining a world where a modern pro sports team called itself, say, the Washington Kikes (to choose an example that picks on my own heritage), even if some Jewish fans didn't mind. Still, the solution the Star has found seems less than perfect—they drop the nickname altogether and just refer to the team as "Washington." Sports teams have names; we just wish this team had a different one. Besides, referring to "Washington" winning or losing might leave readers wondering which Washington team we mean—the Nationals? The Wizards? The Caps? And sadly, there are quite a few District residents who root for a different team altogether.

Again, it's important to know the context, and what was in the hearts of the people who named the team when they did so. Marshall had to be told by John F. Kennedy to hire black players for his team before he would actually do so. In the end, the president had to threaten Marshall with eviction from D.C. Stadium (later RFK Stadium) before the old coot would bend.

I'm usually as opposed to knee-jerk PC stuff as anyone, but I don't think that's the case here. In this case, the term "Redskins" also speaks to the vile practice of segregation in sports, because it was attributed to the team by one of the bigger blockheads the NFL has ever seen.

So, perhaps it is time for the Redskins to do what a few conscientious editors have already done. Change the name. Not because it's expedient, and not because of political pressure, but because any team that asks for the trust of the public should hold up a better and more promising legacy.

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Tags: argument, , , paper, , , Smokes, , Washington City Paper,
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James Worthy, via Twitter, sends some ‘respect’ to Jeff Green after the Celtic earned Worthy comparisons

18 Oct

Last week, in a preseason loss to the New York Knicks, Jeff Green ably faked 22-year-old rookie John Shurna (clearly unaware of Green's sub-standard 33.7 career shooting percentage from behind the arc) out of his shoes on his way toward a crafty, loping, one-handed dunk. Watch:

To some Boston fans — including announcers Brian Scalabrine and Mike Gorman — it reminded of former Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy; which is somewhat forgivable because of the fact that Green has played just 29 career games as a Celtic (including three during this exhibition season), and the Lakers only seemed to play the Celtics (and no other team) from 1980 until 1988. As the unworthy Worthy comparisons grew, Green became a little rattled, telling ESPN Boston that he wasn't totally on board with the comparison:

"Put this Tweet out to James Worthy -- he has Twitter," said Green. "I'm not doing it. Who runs the Boston Celtics' Twitter? ... I cannot be called the great James Worthy without his permission. I'm dead serious. I want you to put that Tweet out. I do not want to be called James Worthy. Get video, I don't care.

"I've got a message for [Scalabrine]: You have to ask the great James Worthy if I'm able to have that nickname of James Worthy, because that's a top 50 [player], one of the greatest players to ever play this game, and for me to be called that, it's an honor, but you have to ask his permission," said Green. "So Tweet it, call him, email, whatever you need to do, because I don't want to be called that without his permission."

A sound response to the uneasiness that comes from being compared with one of the all-time greats, to say nothing of being given someone's actual name as a nickname. Worthy, though, came off as a total mensch in his cheery response. Via CelticsBlog, here is the initial shot of love from James' Twitter account:

And Jeff's apt @ reply:

All a strain of exhibition fun, as Green averages 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game on 40 percent shooting spread out over 26 minutes a game in three Celtic losses. Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers, but we should remind that it was that striking visual that put Scalabrine over the moon; not the actual production.

Now, kindly go back to hating each other, Lakers and Celtics.

Tags: , Celtic, , , , percentage, tweet
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Pandamonium! Fans wear panda heads for Giants’ Pablo Sandoval (Photos)

15 Oct
by David Brown in Fantasy Baseball, General

Steve Hsieh, David Lee and a friend who didn't want to be named have great heads for baseball. Panda heads, that is. As they have been doing "for a while" at Giants games, the trio wore costume panda heads to Game 2 of the NLCS on Monday night. Kung Fu Panda, of course, was the nickname given Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval because of his big size and surprising agility. The Panda Trio had great seats in the first tier between home plate and the Giants dugout, friendly territory to be sure.

"Got to support the Sandoval, got to support the Giants," Hsieh said.

But what happens when the trio, uh, heads to St. Louis for the middle games of the series? Will they be deemed as cute and lovable by Redbird Nation?

"We're worried we're going to get our [behinds] kicked," Lee said.

The trio traveled to Texas in 2010 for the World Series and brought another, smaller panda head (you can make it out on the far right) and were not met with Texas hospitality.

"A big  Texan got into it with us over the head," Hsieh said. "It was about to get ugly, but we were OK."

You might be wondering: What about the people that sit behind these big-headed panda lovers? Well, the Pandaheads are limited as to when and where they don their noggins. They're not allowed to block anybody's view for any more than a few seconds, whether that's to take pictures, sign autographs or give out a bear hug.

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Tags: , , Kung, , , Panda,
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Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, speaks during a news conference to discuss the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. The tournament begins Thursday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) -- With every week, and every win, Rory McIlroy gets a new moniker. Two-time major champion. The world No. 1. Heir apparent. The latest nickname was courtesy of none other than Tiger Woods.

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland waits on the 15th green to putt his ball during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament in Carmel, Indiana September 9, 2012. REUTERS/Brent Smith

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has unquestionably overshadowed Tiger Woods on the 2012 PGA Tour but the Northern Irish world number one laughs at suggestions that he now intimidates the American, a 14-times major winner. "He's (Tiger's) got a new nickname for me, actually. He calls me 'The Intimidator'," a smiling McIlroy jested as he spoke to reporters on Wednesday while preparing for this week's Tour Championship. "No. How can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy's got 75 or whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors. He's been the biggest thing ever in our sport. ...

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ATLANTA, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has unquestionably overshadowed Tiger Woods on the 2012 PGA Tour but the Northern Irish world number one laughs at suggestions that he now intimidates the American, a 14-times major winner. "He's (Tiger's) got a new nickname for me, actually. He calls me 'The Intimidator'," a smiling McIlroy jested as he spoke to reporters on Wednesday while preparing for this week's Tour Championship. "No. How can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy's got 75 or whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors. He's been the biggest thing ever in our sport. ...
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Oakland’s Jerry Blevins does best Houdini impersonation, then asks ‘where’s my pie?’

12 Sep

Oakland manager Bob Melvin attached the nickname "Houdini" to his reliever Jerry Blevins on Tuesday night and it was hard to argue with the tag. The A's left-hander relieved closer Grant Balfour in the bottom of the ninth and inherited a one-run lead that looked near impossible to protect. Runners stood on first and third. There were no outs.

And yet Blevins was able to strike out Kendrys Morales before getting Howie Kendrick to ground into a double play to give Oakland its fifth straight win with a 6-5 triumph over the Angels. Blevins only needed eight pitches to slip out of the situation's ropes and chains.

The escape gave Blevins only his second save in 205 career appearances and the 29-year-old assumed his achievement would be commemorated with one of Josh Reddick's ever-present cream pies. Alas, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported, that Cool Whip christening never came, furthering the notion that non-closers are the most underappreciated assets in baseball.

"I was so disappointed," Blevins said. "I was half-expecting it while I was doing the TV (interview). The first thing I said was, 'Where's my pie?' That was a perfect moment for a pitcher to get a little love."

Unfortunately for Bleveins,  great escape artists are really never appreciated until they can slip away no longer. Talk about a punch to the stomach.

Big BLS H/N: Rant Sports

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Tags: Blevins, Grant Balfour, Houdini, , Jerry Blevins, Kendrys Morales, , , , , , , Tag
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Al Montoya’s new Winnipeg Jets mask features the angriest jet you’ve ever seen

08 Sep

When a change in scenery happens for a goaltender that means it's time for new mask art. Such was the case for Winnipeg Jets netminder Al Montoya. After spending the past season and a half with the New York Islanders, Montoya signed with the Jets on July 4 on a one-year deal where he'll backup Ondrej Pavelec.

Last year, the "Big Cubano" went all in with an Islanders/sea motif, featuring an old man on the sea and a lighthouse. The backplate was a "man in the moon" smoking a cigar and Montoya's nickname.

Sticking with a theme based around his new club, Montoya's mask for his first season in Winnipeg features a cartoon jet with an aggressive look with the mouth of a jet going around the cage.

Via In Goal Mag:

If you take a quick glance you'll almost think you're looking at Brian Hayward's mask when he was with the San Jose Sharks.

The backplate again features his nickname, as well as the initials of members of his family. The art was again done by Ray Bishop of Bishop Designs, who has also done masks for Ryan Miller, Tomas Vokoun and Jimmy Howard, among others.

Now if only we could get Montoya or Pavelec to take on Chris Mason's awesome, awesome Jets-themed pad set that he wore last year...

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

Tags: Al Montoya, art, , , , mask, Mask art, , , , , ,
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Reports: Joey Logano headed to Penske to drive the No. 22

04 Sep

Multiple outlets are reporting that Joey Logano is headed to Penske to take the seat vacated by AJ Allmendinger earlier this season. It's part of an ongoing merry-go-round of seats that will apparently see Matt Kenseth take over Logano's old ride at Gibbs and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. assume Kenseth's former seat. The odd man out is Sam Hornish Jr., who has been driving the No. 22 since Allmendinger's suspension for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy.

Logano earned the nickname "Sliced Bread" (as in "Greatest thing since ... ") from Mark Martin early in his racing career, but has struggled to live up to such high praise. He has two wins in 136 career Sprint Cup starts, and has never finished a season ranked higher than 16th. Given that Home Depot is one of NASCAR's highest-profile sponsors and had grown accustomed to victory lane with Tony Stewart, Logano's inability to hit similar heights contributed to the end of his time at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Still, Logano is starting to assert himself as a driver. He's had high-profile garage dustups with both Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman, and could perhaps benefit from a change in scenery. At Penske, he'll be teamed with Brad Keselowski, another young driver albeit one who's found more success early in his career, and the two could be a fearsome tandem for years to come. Could be.

This year, he currently sits at 18th but has a chance to reach the Chase if he can win Saturday night's Richmond race. A win there would give him two on the season and vault him over Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards, among others.

None of the sides has made a public comment on the story, but the news is expected to be announced this week.

Tags: , , Hornish, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, , , Penske, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., ,
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RGIII is ‘Bob Griffin’ until he earns his nickname, says Osi

25 Jul
by in Fantasy Football, General

Robert Griffin III, the man most recently scheduled to be the Redskins' savior, has a nickname — it's RGIII. You know this. But even though he has a nickname, according to Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, it doesn't mean he's earned that nickname.

Until he accomplishes something in the NFL (does an ESPY mean nothing to Osi Umenyiora?), Osi says RGIII is just plain ol' Bob Griffin. Here's Osi's breakdown, which he delivered on WFAN on Tuesday. Via the New York Post:

"Who is this RG3 guy you guys keep talking about?'' Umenyiora said. "You talking about Bob Griffin? You guys are giving him a cool nickname already and everything. When he does anything in the NFL we're gonna call him RG3. Right now he's Bob Griffin.''

Griffin responded briefly following the Redskins' practice today.

"One of my coaches at Baylor called me Bob. Nobody really calls me Bob … [Osi] doesn't have to call me RG3 at all.''

For some reason, I find the idea of Robert Griffin III being "Bob Griffin" hilarious. Maybe it's because "RGIII" invokes such an athletic, sleek, new-age image. It fits his skill set, athleticism and promise of a better future. RGIII is this.

"Bob Griffin," on the other hand, is this guy. Or it's this guy. Or it's a guy buying a gigantic bag of chicken feed at the local farm supply store. Bob Griffin is nearly the opposite of RGIII.

I'm not pro- or anti-RGIII as a nickname. It's not the most creative thing in the world, and I feel like we've become too accepting of vanilla, initial-based nicknames. That said, though, it does work. The sports nickname landscape is so barren that I'm happy to have it.

If I happened to be a Giants, Cowboys or Eagles fan, though, I'd jump all over "Bob Griffin." If you're a rival to the Redskins, Osi Umenyiora's given you a gift. I'm sure RGIII won't take offense (or at least, will claim that in public), but we know the disrespect intended. Osi is absolutely trying to knock the man down a peg here.

And if you're a Redskins fan, it's good news for you, too. People now at least think enough of you to include you in NFC East trash-talking. It seems like it's only gone back and forth between the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys the last few years. Bob Griffin has at least gotten you invited to the party.

Gracias, DC Sports Bog.

Tags: Bob Griffin, breakdown, , , , , Osi Robert Griffin III, , ,
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