By 2017, the Washington Redskins had exhausted all excuses for their team name. “It’s not about PEOPLE, it’s about SKINS.” “Some potatoes have red skin and they’re not offended.” “When you think about it, it’s just a color plus a body part. If we were called the Purple Hairs or the Grey Jowls, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”
But they were having that discussion, and everyone was sick of it. The Redskins threw a Hail Mary pass – not on the field, they are not good in 2017 – but in the court… of public discourse. “We’ll change our name if everybody changes their names.”
To their surprise, the rest of the NFL was on board. It was a chance to sell merch, and some of the other teams realized that even if their names weren’t offensive yet, they would be sooner or later. On the first Sunday of the regular season, 2018, the Washington Megans squared off against the Buffalo Weather. And the Cleveland Oranges against the Kansas City Chefs.
Here’s how some of those new names came to be:
The Baltimore Ravens are now The Baltimore Hop-Frogs
The fact that the original team name was a literary reference – To Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, of course – was so badass that the Ravens organization was loathe to change it. But why not look further into the Poe canon and find a work that’s even spookier than The Raven? Enter The Hop-Frog, a short story about a court jester who convinces a group of royals to dress as monkeys then sets them alight, burning them to death.
The Raven, in contrast, was just a bird talking some shit.
The Buffalo Bills are now The Buffalo Weather
The same question plagued the Bills organization for years. What even is a BILL? When a quick survey of the naming committee revealed that nobody – not one person – had met a menacing Bill, they knew they had to come up with something that would strike fear in their opponents.
Then they hit on it. What could be more terrifying, more dangerous, more unpredictable than the Buffalo Weather?
The Cincinnati Bengals are now The Cincinnati Parisiens
Did you know that in the 1800s they used to call Cincinnati “The Paris Of America?” Think about it for a sec. Calling anything the something of somewhere always sounds like it’s either almost an insult or almost a compliment. But Cincinnati – sick of being considered basically the city version of a mom haircut – decided to aim high. With their new team name, Cinci reclaimed its connection to the proud – some would say TOO proud, snooty even – city of Paris.
The Cleveland Browns are now The Cleveland Oranges
Nobody in the Browns organization knew why a team choosing to name itself after a color – already an iffy concept – would also chose to name itself after the WORST color: brown, the color of poop and dirt. However, they were unwilling to repaint the entire stadium and redesign all of their merchandise. So Cleveland chose to keep the same team colors – orange and brown – but named itself after the one that isn’t the disappointment of the color wheel.
The Dallas Cowboys are now The Dallas East Dillon Lions
Dallas put its team name to popular vote, and the people got what they wanted: a team named after the greatest football players in Texas history. The Dallas Tami Taylors lost by a close margin, because Tami Taylor is the truest embodiment of the phrase “don’t mess with Texas.”
The Houston Texans are now The Houston Austins
Look. Texas knows that outsiders’ favorite part of Texas is Austin. It’s not stupid. It also knows that Austin is never going to get its act together to organize a football team. Lord knows it tried. They had meetings and practices and everything, and the result was a mural, a community garden, and a podcast. So, the Texans organization went for the next-best thing, and named the Houston team after the team all of the non-Texans wish existed.
The Indianapolis Colts are now The Indianapolis Adult Horses
Have you ever seen a colt? Cute as hell, but all wobbly on its spindly little legs. Not exactly the name for a football powerhouse. The Colts naming committee wanted to convey an animal with a little bit more power, strength, and maturity. Bam. The Indianapolis Adult Horses.
The Minnesota Vikings are now The Minnesota Ikeas
The Vikings team name was a tribute to Minnesota’s proud Scandinavian heritage. Even more than the Vikings, which Nordic export can confound a grown man into a blubbering mess of tears? IKEA FURNITURE. The new mascot is a confusing diagram on legs – picture the Bill from Schoolhouse Rock – named the Ikea Directions.
The Kansas City Chiefs are now The Kansas City Chefs
The new Chiefs owner, who is not good at spelling, in fact terrible at spelling, hated dealing with the “i before e” thing in Chiefs. Behind his back, his staff had taken to calling the team the Kansas City Chefs after his most frequent misspelling. As a joke, they all voted for this as the new name… and it won.
Unfortunately, the owner tends to spell it “shefs” now.
The New York Giants are now The New York New Jerseys
The team plays in New Jersey. Everyone knows that this is weird. The organization is just acknowledging it.
The New England Patriots are now The Boston Safety Schools
It seemed awfully ridiculous that most other teams belong to a single city – hell, New York has TWO – yet the Patriots are supposed to represent an entire region. The committee did away with that and just named them for the nearest major metro area. Then, okay, what’s to love about Boston? A lot! Some of the best colleges in the country are in Boston, and so are some of the very good colleges everyone applies to in case they don’t get into those. Boston may be home to more beloved safety schools than any other city in the country, and it should be proud.
Besides, knocking Harvard down a peg seemed like a pretty Boston thing to do.
The Philadelphia Eagles are now The Philadelphia Iggles
The Eagles organization looked to other Philadelphia teams for inspiration, but got sidetracked discussing the Phillies mascot, the Philly Phanatic. “What’s with this thing where the Phillies have to spell EVERYTHING with a ‘PH?’ It’s annoying. Just spell it like you say it!,” Todd said. It’s not important who Todd is, but this guy is always named Todd.
“Spell it like you say it…” Keith repeated. Freaking Keith.
“Spell it like you say it…” said Don. I’m pretty sure there would be a Don.
And the Philadelphia Iggles were born.
The New York Jets are now The New York Giants
With the Giants renamed to reflect the fact that these guys for real play in New Jersey, the Giants’ name was up for grabs. The Jets knew that a Giant is actually pretty cool, with potential for an awesome mascot and logo that the original Giants never really took advantage of. So they snatched up that name and became the New York Giants.
It’s very confusing and everybody hates it.
The Oakland Raiders are now The Oakland Haircuts
Sometimes, a team knows that it is in the most shining moment in its history. The Chicago Bulls knew it when Jordan was playing, and the Yankees knew it with Babe Ruth. The hybrid bowl cut-mullet sported by Raiders owner Mark Davis? Yeah, the organization’s never going to see another one like that:So, the Oakland Haircuts it is.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are now The Pittsburgh Best Buy Reebok Dairy Queens
They got sort of carried away with the corporate sponsors.
The Seattle Seahawks are now The Seattle Fleece
What’s a Seattle stalwart that forges through bitter winds, driving rain and winter chill? Like, I GUESS their football team, but mostly zip-up fleeces. Guaranteed, if you walk through the streets of Seattle you will see 1000 North Face zip-ups for every one seahawk. And that’s a conservative estimate.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now The Tampa Bay Nanas
The Buccaneers had spreadsheets and whiteboards all blank and ready. The committee met to discuss what everyone’s favorite things about Tampa were. But really, all anyone likes about Tampa is their Nana who lives there in the winter.
The Washington Redskins are now The Washington Megans
The Redskins had the most at stake in the Great NFL Name Change. All eyes were on them to choose a name that was, at the very least, not racist. After hours of debate, a quiet and exceptionally average-looking committee member spoke up. Like, almost aggressively average, if that makes sense.
“Before I was born, my parents had a lot of trouble coming up with a name. They, too, were afraid of offending someone. See, they couldn’t pick a name from either side of the family, because the other side would get hurt feelings. They couldn’t use a name any of their friends had used on their kids, because that would be stealing. My dad didn’t want anything too fancy, but my mom didn’t want anything too cutesy. By the time they went to the hospital, they still didn’t have a name. But once I was born, my father took one look at my little face, eyes opening to the world for the first time, and said ‘I don’t know. Fucking… Megan?’ The point is, sometimes you just have to pick something.”
But the rest of the committee had already stopped listening to her by the end, and they sort of missed the point. “Fucking… Megan? Eh, good enough.”
And that’s how the Washington Megans got their name.