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A Vote for Redtails

By Sports Editor, Brian Hoffman

It’s Day 127 AG(After Gobert) and the Washington NFL Football team may have a new name by the time my column for this week hits the newsstand or internet. On Monday the team announced that “Redskins” will be retired and a new name would be announced as soon as all possible trademark infringements were explored.

It’s about time, but enough of that. Let’s live in the present, and one of the names suggested that I really like is “Red Tails.” It seems to have all the essentials as to what the team is looking for in this day and age.

First of all it keeps “Red” in the name for the folks who want to see a little tradition remain. I wouldn’t think that’s a top priority, but it can’t hurt.

Secondly, while the old name was offensive to minorities, the “Red Tails” honors a minority group. The “Red Tails” is a nickname for the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American fighter pilots in World War II who painted the tails of their planes red. There was a 2012 movie about the Airmen titled “Red Tails.”

The Tuskegee Airmen, a squadron of African American pilots, flew planes like these in World War II with the tails painted red.

The name also ties in with the military, so that’s fitting for a team in the nation’s capital. Also, it would promote strength and power, which you want in a football name.

Finally, it’s not only a cool name but would lend itself to a good logo, and what would surely be a run on merchandise for the Washington franchise. They could keep the colors for tradition’s sake, and everyone seems to like the burgundy and gold. You could maybe make the butt section of their uniform pants red. Actually, that might work better for the cheerleaders.

Only thing is, in researching Red Tails I came across an interesting item about a man in Northern Virginia who is what you call a “trademark squatter.” Apparently he anticipated years ago that the Washington team would eventually change the name so he has trademarked dozens of potential names for the team, including Red Tails. His Red Tails trademark was requested just last week, on July 7, then he trademarked Red Wolves, another name that has been kicked around, on July 8. The team officially announced it would change the name on July 13.

This guy has trademarked dozens of potential names over the years. Other recent trademarks include Monuments, Veterans and Renegades, and since 2015 he’s also trademarked Washington (add name here). . . Americans, Bravehearts, Federals, Football Club, Forces, Founders, Gladiators, Natives, Pandas, Pigskins, Red-Tailed Hawks, Sharks and Tribe.

I’m not exactly sure how this works. Would the Washington football team have to “buy” the name from this guy if they want to go with Red Tails? We may find out soon, but if this guy makes any money off this deal you might want to start trademarking some names for the Cleveland baseball team.

JOINING THE ELKS

While we sit around looking for stuff to watch on TV tell me, is it just me or is the NCAA “Transfer Portal” taking the “college” out of college sports? Since the Transfer Portal debuted in October of 2018 it’s had a big impact on collegiate sports. Created as a compliance tool to manage the transfer process for athletes, it empowers the athletes to make known their desire to consider other programs.

When athletes enter the portal they don’t necessarily have to transfer, but more often than not they do. It’s sort of like becoming a free agent in professional sports. You can still sign with your current team, but you’re letting the others know you’re out there and available and usually it’s for a reason.

Since this portal started I’ve noticed way more football and basketball players transferring than there used to be. Smaller schools are finding it harder to build a program, because if they hit on a good player there’s a great chance he’s going to explore transferring to a bigger and more prestigious school. In the old days players like Seth Curry proved to be good enough to play at Duke after one year at Liberty, and it’s much the same thing only on a wider basis.

Do you remember “The Honeymooners,” with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney? Most of you are probably too young to remember the original episodes but they show up on reruns and are still funny today.

There’s one episode where the “Raccoons,” the lodge Ralph and Norton belong to, are getting ready to name their “Raccoon of the Year.” Norton points out that the previous year’s Raccoon of the Year got such a big head when he won that he quit the Raccoons and joined the Elks.

Well, we have a lot of basketball and football players joining the Elks these days. Anymore, you need to buy a program to identify the players as they come and go on a regular basis.

There’s two ways to look at this and I’ve had some discussions with friends on how it should be. One pointed out, and rightly so, that coaches come and go as they please with little regard to the athletes they recruit. If a high school standout chooses a college because he likes the coach, he has no control over whether that coach will be there for the next four or five years. The degree of loyalty depends on the coach, but money usually rules that situation.

There is one difference, however. Coaches on the collegiate level are professional coaches and not teachers, like they are in high school. However, the players aren’t professional players, they’re supposed to be students. Shouldn’t a high school prospect choose a college because of the institution, and not just the athletic program? That’s certainly idealistic, but it should be a factor.

It all goes to the reality that big time college sports are there to make money for everyone involved, and if the players happen to get a good education, more the better. I don’t imagine all these athletes entering the Transfer Portal are eventually headed to the pros, so shouldn’t their education be of equal importance as to the extra five minutes of playing time they would get by transferring to another school to play basketball?

And then we have the rule that basketball players have to play one year of college ball, and football players two, before being eligible for the draft in their respective sports. What a joke that is! How many players in that category are actually going to college because they want to be a student? Mostly, they want to fulfill their one or two year obligation and leave for the pros.

I would say basketball is worse than football, since the hoopsters only have to play one year before being draft eligible. From what I understand most of them rarely attend class. They can enjoy the social life of college and the thrill of playing big time basketball without worrying about grades, since they plan on making a lot of money as soon as they leave Dodge.

I think it’s interesting that the NBA has started this new G League elite pro team. Players coming out of high school who are big time prospects can opt to play for the G League team to fulfill their one year draft requirement and make money, legally, while doing so. Recently Jalen Green, who many predict will be the number one pick in the 2021 NBA draft, decided to play for the NBA G League team instead of playing in college, where he was being recruited by all the big schools.

In the G League Green will be playing against players who are just below the NBA level, hoping to make an NBA team if they do well. He’ll receive a salary reported to be more than $125,000 a year, and I don’t know what Kentucky is paying these days but that has to be comparable. And, more importantly, Green can use his name to earn money with endorsements from shoe companies and the like. That’s probably happening anyway, but in the G League it’s all above board and you won’t soil your reputation by taking money you rightfully deserve. Ask Zion Williamson how that’s working out for him after one year at Duke.

Brian Shaw, a highly regarded basketball mind, was recently hired to coach the G League elite team. I would think he’d be an excellent choice, having been a head coach for the Denver Nuggets and a long-time assistant for the Lakers, including some of their championship teams.

Of course, folks worry that if the G League team works out, and maybe expands to two or more teams, it will hurt college basketball. I guess that would be the case if the best 20-some high school players opt for the G League every year, but is that worse than having a player come to your school for one year then leave and force the coach to start over? If you’re Duke or Kentucky it’s okay, but if you’re Virginia Tech stability and team chemistry might lend more to a winning program.

Just a few thoughts from someone who enjoys “big time” college basketball but who considers the ODAC to be the real “college” sport.

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