The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger wrote this article about the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and the name change debate. It has been making the rounds in the city since it came out on Wednesday. Make sure you've read it.
I have a few thoughts on the issues raised. 12 thoughts actually.
1. Chiefs is not an offensive word. I haven't seen a strong argument that the name itself is wrong. Read that article again. There's really no argument that the name Chiefs by itself is offensive. The same goes for Braves and even Indians.
2. The name Chiefs may not be offensive but the Chiefs and the fans have clearly used Native American monikers. Things like headdresses, the Tomahawk Chop and Warpaint ... that's pretty obvious. Should those go?
3. I do have a hard time imagining how someone could stop 75,000 Chiefs fans (many of whom may believe this is a non-issue) from doing the Tomahawk Chop on Sundays in the fall.
4. The name Chiefs came from a former Kansas City Mayor nicknamed "The Chief". Michael MacCambridge wrote a terrific book entitled "Lamar Hunt: A Life In Sports". From that book:
"Lamar finally succumbed to Steadman's logic and selected a new name. On May 26 , he announced that the franchise would be called the Chiefs, owing to the area's Native American heritage and, as well, as a nod to Mayor Bartle. A week later, in the kitchen of his Dallas apartment, Lamar sketched out the team's new logo on a napkin, placing the elongated, interlocking 'K' and 'C' inside a white arrowhead. Soon enough, the silhouette of the state of Texas came off the red helmets, and the arrowheads went on."
Does intent, or the origins of the name, matter in a situation like this? I'm not sure.
5. Why is Chiefs different from "Redskins"? Because the latter is widely viewed as a slur. The other is not. They're not the same. It's really that simple.
6. The Chiefs can learn from Dan Snyder: don't be a jerk.
7. The Chiefs have stayed mostly silent on this issue. Back in May, Chiefs head PR dude (his official title) Ted Crews told USA Today, "Those issues haven't presented themselves from fans or groups." I would be surprised if the team took any sort of position on this anytime soon. The minute they take a stance, it becomes bigger news and not just sports news. I suspect they will ride it out in silence as long as possible, especially considering they have the support of damn near the entire fan base.
8. 610 Sports Danny Parkins had a good take on all this a few minutes in at this link. His whole segment on the issue is worth a listen.
9. The point that made me think the most is this one: Once Chiefs fans start using Native American monikers and stereotypes, Native Americans lose control over how their culture is represented. Is that right? Again, I don't know, but it has made me think.
10. The Chiefs do appear to have scaled back their use of Native American stereotypes over the years. The franchise started with this secondary logo. Warpaint used to look like this. You probably won't see a poster like this one anytime soon. You could look at those as acknowledgment from the franchise that some of those things are not appropriate anymore. I've also wondered why the Chiefs have been pushing "Chiefs Kingdom" over the past few years.
11. I do not want the Chiefs to change their name and I do not think they will.
12. What deserves another look is the use of headdresses, the Tomahawk Chop, Warpaint and other Native American stereotypes. I'm a big Chiefs fan and grew up with those things as many of you did ... but I'm willing to listen.