And the issue is getting a new round of attention, as Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday that for the team to return to the nation's capital, there would need to be a "discussion" about changing the moniker to one without the racial baggage of continuing use of "Redskins."
The 'Skins have returned to prominence this year, making an unlikely run to the wild-card game of the NFL Playoffs under the leadership of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III (aka RG3.) The team lost to the Seattle Seahawks in that game this past Sunday, and RGIII was badly injured, but the team had reasserted itself as a football powerhouse.
Washington is a football town once again, but it is one without an NFL team within its city limits, as the Redskins currently play at FedEx Field in nearby Landover, Md., in a similar arrangement to the New York Giants and Jets, which both play in a New Jersey stadium, but carry the flag of the Empire State.
And all the new attention being heaped on the Redskins has politicians and residents again discussing the prospects of the team returning to the District, according to the Washington Post.
But such a move wouldn't come without certain costs, and one of those may just be a Redskins name change, as Gray seems to believe the name is not appropriate. That goes against the inclinations of the team's current owner, Daniel M. Snyder, and former owner, Jack Kent Cooke - both of whom have not been open to previous discussions such a change, according to the National Football Post.
"I think that if they get serious with the team coming back to Washington, there’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a discussion about that," the Washington Post reports Gray said Wednesday. "And of course the team is going to have to work with us around that issue."
The mayor pointed out during his remarks that teams including the NBA's Washington Bullets - who became the Wizards in 1997 - have changed their names without incurring lasting damage to their reputations, according to the Washington Post.
However, other teams still have names based on Native Americans that incur ire from to time as well but do seem to have no intention to change them, including baseball's Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians and the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.
“I think it has become a lightning rod, and I would be love to be able to sit down with the team … and see if a change should be made,” Gray said, according to the Washington Post. “There’s a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing.”
The calls for a Redskins name change have increased with the passage of time, as people have grown increasingly aware of - and sensitive to - the racial underpinnings of the team's moniker.
The topic of the 'Skins' name made news as recently as November, when the Kansas City Star explained its reasoning for declining to use the term Redskins in its coverage of a recent game, according to The Pitt News:
"I remain unconvinced by every argument I've ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple," the Star's public editor, Derek Donovan, wrote in explaining the paper's policy of avoiding the name. "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."
The franchise now known as the Redskins began as the Boston Braves in 1932, then changed in 1933 to the Redskins upon moving to Fenway Park in order to jive better with the Red Sox, who also call the ballpark home, according to NBC Sports. Four years later the team moved to Washington, D.C., keeping the Redskins name.