The war between Daniel Snyder and those who believe the Washington Redskins need a mascot makeover probably won’t end any time soon, but Native Americans – as well as activist groups on their behalf – won a telling battle Wednesday.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office stripped the Redskins of six trademark registrations, saying that the team’s nickname is disparaging to Native Americans.
This ruling, Mike Wise said, is pivotal, but it’s not all that surprising.
“First of all, people that have followed the controversy for a while weren’t shocked that the ruling came out in favor of the Native American plaintiffs,” the Washington Post columnist said on The Morning Show. “They had won a similar case in ’99, and the only reason it was reversed on appeal was because the judge ruled that the plaintiffs had waited too long to actually file the suit. So this was a long time coming.”
The next step in the process – aside from Snyder appealing the decision – remains to be seen.
“A lot of people think that because they got stripped of their trademarks that everybody could open a store and start selling (Redskins merchandise),” Wise said. “That can’t happen until all the team’s appeals are exhausted.”
While the USPTO’s ruling is a telling referendum on Snyder’s views, it’s far from a tipping point. But it is significant.
“It’s a slow, steady drum beat and a momentum that’s been building for about 18 months consistently now that won’t go away,” Wise said. “And I just think at some point they’re going to have to develop an exit strategy – because this thing will cost them money. It might be two years, it might be four, it might be six. It’s going to cost them money, and it’s going to cost the league money. And not only that, they’re just going to look like they’re on the wrong side of history.”
Snyder, however, doesn’t seem to care. The Redskins represent his childhood, and now – as a billionaire – they represent his ego.
“There are some people in this world that would rather be right than happy,” Wise said, “and I think in Daniel Snyder’s case, he doesn’t like being told what to do. He thinks this is a conspiracy made by leftist social engineers like myself and they’ve just guilted America into believing everything should be kumbaya. He doesn’t believe that there’s actually hundreds of thousands of Native Americans on these reservations (who are angry).”
It appears Snyder doesn’t notice the angry fans, either.
“There’s just a fatigue in the fan base now where they’re tired of players being asked about it, (and) they’re tired of the team spending millions (on lawyers and) lobbyists to defend it,” Wise said. “They’re sort of (tired of it).”
And what would happen if Washington actually won a Super Bowl? What if there’s a parade down Constitution Avenue? That would be arguably the most controversial victory parade in sports history.
“Do we want to sully future memories?” Wise asked. “Do we want protestors off to the side yelling at our players and our fans?”
Although Wednesday’s ruling can’t force Snyder to change the name, it was a proud moment for countless Native Americans across the country.
“Some Native Americans out there have been fighting this for 30 years,” Wise said. “People think that this thing just started picking up steam, (but it’s been a long battle). For them, that was a major vindication yesterday.”