History of the Washington Redskins logo

The Washington Redskins logo has been changed six different times over the decades, and it remains shrouded in controversy for its racially stereotypical appearance.

After a 1992 ruling originally found the team name “Redskins” to be defamatory and therefore ineligible to be trademarked, the decision was overturned. Two decades later, petitions and complaints continue to be filed at various levels of the judicial system. However, a 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey (downloadable PDF file is available here) actually found that 90 percent of Native Americans were not bothered by the team’s name.

History and changes of the Redskins Logo

The Redskins moved to Washington, D.C., in 1937 after having been in Boston for several years. The team began its D.C. era with a logo that is very reminiscent of the one used today. It featured a male Native American face with long black hair, red feathers, and a white background and yellow circle.

In 1952, the logo became a bit more detailed and colorful, featuring larger red and yellow feathers, as well as red and yellow hair braids, while the enclosing circle disappeared. In 1960, the logo changed once again to a burgundy and white design enclosed in a white circle. The burgundy was not used on the man’s face, but was used as the background and outline color.

The Redskins were the last professional football team to integrate, fielding teams without black players until 1962. Owner George Preston Marshall was openly racist straight through to his will, even as it led to poor performance for his team compared to squads throughout the league showcasing star black players. It wasn’t until potential political action coming from the offices of JFK, spurred on by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, that the team changed its ways.

Udall proposed and Kennedy approved an action that would have barred the Redskins from using what was then known as D.C. Stadium if they did not integrate. This ushered in a new era for the Redskins, even more so after Marshall suffered a stroke in 1963 and the team came under new management.

Trying to enhance their public image, the Redskins changed logos in 1965. The new logo, which lasted through the 1969 season, was a gold and burgundy spear with a feather on the handle. This was replaced for the 1970 and 1971 seasons with a capital R in a burgundy circle with two feathers attached.

By 1972, the team switched to the logo it currently uses. The Redskins logo today features a dark-skinned Native American in headdress enclosed in a yellow circle with two white and yellow feathers attached.

In 1982, the team briefly changed the logo to a left-facing drawing that included other minor changes such as the feathers being wrapped around the circle instead of hanging from it, but reverted to the right-facing logo used today after one season in 1983.

Check out sportslogos.net to see photos of the evolution of the Washington Redskins logo.

This story was first published by Jake Emen on Yahoo News on October 20, 2011

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a writer based outside of Washington, D.C., and I'm also talking whiskey, local events, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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