Originally named the Boston Braves, the team that would eventually be known as the Washington Redskins has had a very long and proud history. Sadly, however, that history is constantly being overshadowed by controversies related to the allegedly racist and offensive Washington Redskins logo. So, what’s the truth? Is the Washington Redskins logo offensive, or is the team just following tradition?
We will not be able to answer that question. It is up to each of to interpret how we see the world around us, so we can’t actually come out and give a straight answer to the pressing question. What we can do, however, is to present you the facts as straight and objectively as we can, and help you make an informed decision.
Still, regardless of the nature of the Washington Redskins logo, the proud and successful history of the team is uncontestable. Winning thirteen NFL divisional titles, six different NFL conference championships, as well as many other awards and praises, the FedEXField-based team is a living example of ambition, skill, enthusiasm, and tradition.
Redskins Logo Design Elements
The main design elements of the Redskins logos over the years are, of course, the Native American head and the circle around it. The feathers have also become a staple of the Washington Redskins logo, as they evolved from simply being there to being a separately integrated element. However, those are just the concrete elements of the logo.
The other, meta elements of the Washington Redskins logo, just like for any logo out there, are the shape, color, and font. While each of these stands for different things on their own, they give meaning to something totally new when taken together. So, let’s see how the Washington Redskins logo changed over the years, and how it came to be in the first place.
Changes and Evolution
Despite the current controversies, the Washington Redskins logo history hasn’t always been seen as offensive or racist. The first instance of the logo was recorded in 1937, and it went through a few changes over the years. The current version came to be in 1983, and hasn’t changed since then.
The first Redskins logo change took place in 1952, fifteen years after the first logo was designed. Since then, the team went through at least seven different main logos and three different secondary ones. The feathers, initially a background detail, started being featured more and more prominently.
Initially, the Washington Redskins logo consisted of a simple stitched Native American head facing right. The head was inside a circle, and it was sporting two tucked feathers. This lasted from 1937 to 1951. In 1952, the second Washington Redskins logo was revealed.
The second logo lasted for eight years, and it saw a pretty big change from the first version. The circle surrounding the head was removed, and the Native American was given an expression best described as contemptuous. The next logo lasted for four years, from 1960 to 1965, and it was a simplification of the previous logos. The circle was brought back, and the Indian head was designed very minimalistically. The expression was now more stern than anything else.
Next, the 1965 logo suffered a complete redesign. The Native head was gone, as was the circle, replaced by an arrowhead and shaft, with two feathers attached to them. This logo lasted for five years, and was often confused for a spear instead of an arrow. While not as successful as the previous ones, this logo was brought back at an anniversary.
The next logo lasted for only one year, and it featured the first incarnation of the tucked feathers as we know them today. However, instead of the Indian chief head, the Washington Redskins logo now featured a simple, crimson, stylized letter R. This was quickly replaced by the precursor of the logo we all know today.
The Native American head was brought back in 1982, but it was facing left this time. The chief was given a more dignified expression, somewhat peaceful; however, it wasn’t meant to be. The final version of the Washington Redskins logo came in 1983, and it is the version we all know today.
Color and Font
The colors always present throughout most of the Washington Redskins logo history are burgundy, yellow, white, brown, and black. While some versions, such as the 1960 emblem, scrapped some of the colors altogether, the traditional color scheme for the Washington Redskins logo has remained mostly consistent.
While each of the five colors is meant to stand for something different when featured on the team’s uniform, equipment, and merchandise, they stand for something much bigger when seen together – they are meant to invoke sentiments and emotions such as prestige, passion, elegance, excellence, determination, and tradition.
As for the font of the Washington Redskins logo, it is a simple, hand-drawn typeface, meant to resonate positively with the look of the logo. It is a very appealing font, as even the most fervent critics of the football team have nothing bad to say about the team logo’s font. Whether it’s the Washington Redskins new logo or the old one, the font was never the problem.
Inspiration and Trivia
This area is where the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins logo can get the most difficult to approach. The source of inspiration for the logo has been widely disputed, and the team was heavily criticized for their look and practices. Meanwhile, etymologists and historians are also taking part in the discussions, offering contradicting histories of the same events.
First of all, the logo is reported to have been designed so as to honor William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, one of the first and most respected coaches the team has ever had, as well as four other players that happened to be Native Americans. One of the main problems with the logo is that Dietz reportedly wasn’t an actual American Indian.
Some historians claim that “Lone Star” Dietz wasn’t actually Native American at all, instead just claiming to be one so as to not be forced to draft for World War 1. And it would seem like at least some of those claims are true. The Netflix original show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt recently touched upon that, and will most likely focus on the plot point during the next season.
Despite the pretty reasonable claims that the Washington Redskins logo, name, and pre-game hype are offensive, Redskins fans refuse to accept that. Well, some are refusing to accept, while other are claiming to see the point, but still refuse the logo and name change demanded by so many people.
And that is a perfectly reasonable reaction for a long-time football fan. Football is generally about tradition and pride. Changing a team’s decades-old name and logo because of the way language evolved over time and because of some long-dead officials’ purposeful or unintentional mistake does sound pretty drastic. However, only time will tell us how everything will get sorted out.
Whether you consider that the people demanding the change of the Washington Redskins logo are right or wrong is pretty irrelevant right now. We did not try to sway one side’s opinion in favor of the other’s; instead, we simply tried to present to you the facts as they happen to be. We hope that our small history lesson was helpful, and we ask you to come back here for more of your logo history needs.