Redskins vs redskins – the win/win solution

This comes in two parts, the set up, and the delivery (and there’s a whole lotta fun in between!).

THE SET UP

Context:

The world, for reasons that don’t matter a lick in this discussion,  is getting A LOT uglier. A darkness is upon Earth, when Taffy and Basher go to see Mama Basher.

6 – MAMAS DON’T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE COWBOYS

On the dark and stormy night when the band broke up, Mama Basher was pounding away on her computer keyboard when her son walked through the door with a beautiful girl. “Mama, this is my friend Taffy. Taffy, this is my mom.”

Mama Basher looked up for a split second and said, “Just a minute. Let me finish this. I’ll be with you in a minute.” A minute later, Mama Basher turned away from her computer and beheld Taffy for the first time. She was captivated.

“You’re an Indian. An Indian from India, Indian”

Taffy smiled and replied, “Kinda. I’m a Gypsy.” Mama Basher decided, right them and there, that she wanted her son to marry this girl.

“Gypsies came from India. Your people left there a thousand years ago. And you’ve never had a home since then.”

Basher was thrilled. His mother was obviously enthralled by Taffy, and vice versa.  To him, half the battle had been won. Not wanting to interrupt this first meeting of a newly formed mutual admiration society, Basher kept his mouth shut.

“Yes, we left our homeland, and we don’t much want another. We prefer to wander the world like… well, like Gypsies. But your people had your homelands stolen, and you want them back.” Taffy was an admirer of Mama Basher’s activism, especially her Sisyphusian attempts to win back territories stolen from her people by European invaders. “I admire you for the work you’ve done for your people,” Taffy said, sincerely.

Mama Basher was impressed. Very impressed

“Us Gypsies could benefit greatly from a woman like you in a leadership position.”

Mama Basher raised an eyebrow, prompting Taffy to elaborate, “We don’t assert ourselves, not like the Jews.”

“The Jews. Yes, we can all learn a thing or two from the Jews,” said Mama Basher. “But I’m about to teach one of those Jews a thing or two, too.”

Taffy heard just a hint of aggression in Mama Basher’s voice. Just a hint of hate, too. She wasn’t sure if she should ask, but decided it would be rude not to, and she was very curious, so she plunged in, “You’re starting a new campaign?”

“Basher, this will concern you. Pay attention,” said Mama Basher, turning back to her computer. She clicked her mouse a couple times, pointed at the monitor and asked Taffy, “What do you see?”

“Football helmet. WARshington Redskins.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

“You don’t see racism in the helmet?” Mama basher was getting irritable. Sheepishly, Taffy said she did not. Taffy didn’t come right out and apologize for her oversight, but it was implied in the tone of her voice. Mama Basher eyed the Gypsy girl without expression. “What about the name? Redskins. Do you see the racism in that?”

Basher had heard this before. He’d heard it for years, ever since he was picked to play for a team called the Redskins   when he first started playing Pop Warner football when he was six.

Mama Basher told Taffy that her and her friends had been called redskins by mean white kids when they were children. The white kids used the term as an insult. “The name is an insult. It’s racism, pure and simple,” said Mama Basher

Basher had always seen it differently. Basher told his guest that ever since he could see a TV and understand what football was, he was a fan of the WARshington Redskins. He was a redskin. He played Pop Warner football for the Redskins. Every time he and his friends played football on the playground, he called his team the Redskins (being the most athletically gifted kid around, Basher always got to be a captain, and pick and name his team).

“No one names their team after something they hate,” said Basher. “No one names their team after something that other people look down on. The term is an honour. They are honouring the courage us redskins had when we fought them. The term is not racist.”

Mama Basher was angry. Though they had had the argument a thousand times before, she’d never gotten angry. The darkness was on her. “Shut up, and leave the thinking to me, buffalo brain,” she scowled at Basher. There was no questioning whether or not ‘buffalo brain’ was meant as an insult. Basher had been called buffalo brain by kids when he was younger. He’d put an end to the taunt by bashing a few heads. From then on, no one dared call him buffalo brain to his face. But now his mother had. And he was furious. ‘Don’t make me angry,’ he thought to himself, ‘you won’t like me when I’m angry.’

Being extremely empathic, Taffy was instantaneously disquieted by the tension. She felt the rage building inside Basher. Before Basher could lose it, Taffy took his hand in hers, looked him in the eye, and said, “No, Basher. That’s not the way.”

Mama Basher was touched by Taffy’s empathy. She felt guilty. She felt small. “I’m sorry, Basher, I didn’t mean that. I should not have called you that. It was mean. I’m sorry. Really, I am.”

Basher calmed down. “What do you think?” he asked Taffy.

The Gypsy girl hesitated. She did not want to get in the middle of a fight.

“Yes, Taffy, what do you think?” asked Mama Basher.

Taffy was trapped. She was going to have to give an opinion. She had an opinion, of course, as she did on most things, but she wasn’t sure it was going to please anyone. But she felt their eyes on her, and it made her uncomfortable, so she gave her answer:

“It seems to me that you’re both right. Those kids who taunted you when you were a child were mean and they meant redskin as an insult. But the people who name their football teams the Redskins mean it as an honour. It’s like Robert Plant sings in Stairway to Heaven

There’s a sign o the wall
but she wants to be sure
‘cause you know some times words have
two meanings

Mama Basher knew Taffy was right, but her ego would not let her admit it. And the darkness was on her. “No,” she said. “It’s racism, and that dirty, rich Jew who owns the team is going to change the name.” She almost spat out the word Jew. The darkness was on her.

Basher was ready for this. Three of the biggest college teams in the country had been courting him; the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and the Florida State Seminoles. Other teams had expressed interest, and still more would do the same, but at the moment those were the ones who wanted him the most. His mother, of course, was well aware of this.

“So,” Basher said, addressing his mother, “I suppose you would not want me to sign with Florida State.”

“They have no business using an Indian name. It’s racism.”

“You would prefer that I sign with either of the Oklahoma teams.”

“I would.”

“The University of Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners stole all our land, Mama,” Basher informed his mother. “Or the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys killed us, Mama. If you’re going to go on the warpath to change the names of teams, you should go after them.”

Mama Basher was livid. She hated the idea of her son embarrassing her in front of Taffy. And Taffy made matters worse by siding with Basher by asking, “And what if Basher gets drafted by either the Redskins, or the Cowboys? He can’t just say, ‘No, I’m not playing for you.’”

Mama Basher was unmoved. The darkness was on her. “No,” she said. “It’s racism, and that dirty, rich Jew who owns the team is going to change the name.” She almost spat out the word Jew. The darkness was on her.

“Okay,” Taffy said, after a prolonged and painful period of silence, “I need to get home. I have some things to do.” The uncomfortable silence filled the room again. Taffy let herself out the door.

“Don’t just sit there, Basher, go with her. It’s not safe out there.” Although he was generally disinclined to follow orders, Basher was happy to follow this one.

Track List

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys – Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson – Waylon and Willie – 1978

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV – 1971

THE DELIVERY

Taffy said, “We’re looking for Dan Snyder.” The cowboy and the cop pointed at the Indian (I’m going to risk a nuisance lawsuit here by telling you, my friends, that the other two were Tony Wyllie, the Redskins’ Senior Vice President in charge of communications, and Bob Raskopf, the team’s lawyer, both of whom are simply horrible about answering emails offering solutions to the problems they are paid to solve). Taffy pointed to Basher.

“My name is Basher. My mother is starting a campaign to make you drop the name Redskins.”

Snyder hesitated then said, “What do you want?”

“I have a solution; one that will make everyone happy and make everyone some cha-ching, including you.”

Snyder looked at his buddies and said, “Out.” The lawyer objected, saying he should be present, Snyder laughed, “I don’t want any Goddamned lawyer around when I’m talking money, because you’ll be carving 20% off the top for yourself and billing me a thousand bucks an hour for the time it takes you to do the math.”.

Wyllie and Raskopf skipped into the closet, Snyder turned to Basher and said, “I’m listening.”

“There are five and a half million Indians in this country. If they’re not already, they could soon all be Redskins fans. If you don’t listen to me, none of them will be Redskins fans by the end of the year and a couple million, or more, of your fans from other ethnic groups will leave Redskin nation with them.

“A lot of us young Indians call each other redskins, or ‘skins. We are not ashamed to call ourselves ‘skins. With your help, we can all be proud to call ourselves redskins.

“What’s needed is a campaign to educate people  about all that is great about our culture and history. Such an effort would not only enlighten  non-Indians, it would empower redskins and make us proud. It will require a bit of seed money, up front.

“If the Redskins were to partner with us redskins, to alleviate some of our plight, you’d be a hero, instead of the pariah you’re about to become, if my mom goes ahead with her campaign.”

“How does any of this make money,” asked Snyder.

“You’d gain tons of new fans. Fans spend money on merch. The Cowboys are the only team that opts out of the league’s collective pool of merchandising money. Al Davis dropped the ball when Raiders gear was all the rage. He should have dropped out of the league’s collective merch money pool. You don’t wanna make the same mistake, especially when you can gain millions of new fans. You help us solve some of our problems and sales of Redskins merch will go through the roof.”

“What do you want,” asked Snyder.

“Jobs. If you opt out of the league’s collective merch pool, you can contract us redskins to make all that merch. We can build the factories on our tax free reserves, instead of sending all that work to China,” Basher answered. “We can have everyone wearing Redskins merch. Movie stars, rock stars, Hell, even politicians will be lined up to have their pics taken wearing ‘skins merch. Opt out of the collective merch money pool, dude. Why should the Jags make as much money from merch as you do, when ‘skins merch outsells Jags merch ten to one? That’s dumb business.”

“I’m still listening,” said Snyder.

“It’s obvious that the league is going to expand into London. If you get there before London lands a franchise, you could become as big with Brits as the eventual London team. Remember, London is like any other city that dominates a country, in that those who do not live there love to hate it. Football will become big in the UK as soon as they have a team but there will be many Brits who will hate the London team. Make those people Redskins fans. Could that enroll another three, four, five million members into Redskins Nation?  And, if so, what will that do for your merch sales? CHA-CHING! Get your team one, or more, of those Wembley games,” Basher continued. “Lobby to have the London franchise in your division and Wembley will be half full of ‘skins fans every time you play there, which will be at least once a year.”

“I’m still listening,” said Snyder.

“A Redskins/redskins partnership would increase the team’s fan base all around the world. You could become the first NFL team to go global in the same way Manchester United, and Real Madrid are – obviously, football is small potatoes in the world compared to soccer, but that may change in the LONG run and if it does the Redskins would be miles ahead of the rest of the pack. Ahead of the Packers and the Pats. Your team will be worth more than the Cowboys.”

“More,” said Snyder.

“When your merch sales go way up, kick some of that money back to us, so we can keep working on our problems.”

“More,” said Snyder.

“Hire a squad of all Indian cheerleaders. The calendars can fund full scholarships for them to any school in WARshington.”

“More,” said Snyder.

“Almost all reserve schools in the country call their sports teams the Indians. Give them all free uniforms and equipment. Your colours, your logo.”

“More,” said Snyder.

“Hire Jim Plunkett to head the whole campaign. He’s the only Indian to win the Heisman. Do you remember who he played for when he won?”

“Stanford.”

“Yes, the Stanford Indians. Before they bowed to pressure to change their name to the Cardinal.”

“He killed us in Super Bowl XVIII, when he was with the Raiders,” said Snyder.

“Yeah, and he’s the only quarterback to have won two Super Bowls and not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Joe Namath is a Hal of Famer and he only won one Super Bowl and his career stats are no better than Plunkett’s. That’s racism. If the Redskins lead the campaign to get Plunkett into Canton, even though he destroyed you in the 1984 Super Bowl, you’re a hero and your fan base grows even bigger.”

More,” said Snyder.

“When you make the partnership agreement public, you unveil a limited edition line of merch that has the Indian head logo, but over top of it you have the word KIN.”

“Huh?” said, Snyder.

“Redskins. Remove the R E D and the two Ss, and you’re left with the word KIN . That shot makes it onto the front page of every sports section in every newspaper in the country and goes viral overnight. And that limited edition line of merch sells out in a week, or less.”

“More,” said Snyder.

“That’s all I got, dude. How much more do you want? Would you prefer a war that will fatten your lawyers and turn you into a pariah?”

“Okay, I’ll think it all over and get back to you soon. Thanks,” said Snyder.

Taffy and Basher went back from whence they came, stopping inside Nanabijou to report to Sandman and shoot the shit for a while.

As soon as the kids were gone, Snyder laughed, “Drop dead, jigaboo. You’ll never get a cent out of me, wagonburner.” Then he cranked the music again, jumped back up on his desk and sang:

Macho macho man
I’ve got to be a macho man
macho macho man
I’ve got to be a macho man

 

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