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Commanders Coach Reignites ’Skins Controversy with Bootleg T-shirt

Commanders head coach Dan Quinn, who was hired in February, raised some eyebrows at rookie minicamp by appearing in a bootleg T-shirt showing a feather-clad version of the team’s “W” logo (see above) — an obvious shout-out to the franchise’s old “Redskins” identity, and a move that seems likely to rekindle the debate about the team’s name (although I’d appreciate it if we could please not relitigate that issue here on Uni Watch — thanks).

The feather may seem like a benign enough symbol, but it’s actually more complicated than that. When The Washington Post conducted its 2016 poll about the team’s name, it found that while many Native Americans weren’t offended by the “Redskins” moniker, most of them took issue with the use of cultural symbols like feathers. As one poll respondent said, “To me it is personally offensive to see non-Natives making a mockery of our cultural items — feathers are sacred gifts that we have a lot of respect and honor towards.”

Pro Football Talk reported yesterday that the Commanders had “no organizational comment” on Quinn’s T-shirt. PFT went on to say:

It’s our understanding that Quinn wore the T-shirt on his own, without the team knowing he’d be doing it. Although it might have seemed like a trial balloon of sorts for the head coach to display a mashup of the current logo and the former logo, the Commanders aren’t testing the waters for a potential revival of the abandoned name and logo, or for incorporation of aspects of the old logo into the new one.

PFT’s reporting is consistent with what team owner Josh Harris has said since he acquired the franchise from embattled owner Dan Snyder in the fall of 2023. Shortly after taking over the club, Harris tried to nip any “Redskins” speculation in the bud by saying:

“Obviously, I grew up in D.C. and I was there during the glory years, so I understand why fans love the former name. But, look, there was a portion of our fan base that felt disrespected by the former name. Sports are supposed to bring people together and not be a distraction. I don’t want distractions. … I thought it was important that we end the conversation.”

If Harris really doesn’t want distractions, he’ll presumably be having a little chat with Dan Quinn about the latter’s wardrobe. And since we all know the NFL takes a dim view of its personnel wearing unauthorized or unlicensed merch, Quinn will likely be hearing from the league as well.

(My thanks to Phil for his assistance with this post.)


Comments (66)

    It’s amazing what a couple of feathers can do to make a boring logo look good

    I absolutely think “political correctness,” at times goes too far. Renaming this football team was not one of those cases. They were named after a literal racial slur. I mean, come on. Just let it go. The new logo and name are frankly, terrible, but at least it’s not a racial slur anymore. What are people accomplishing by clinging to the old name? What point are you trying to prove, that you’re racist, that you’re incapable of learning and admitting when something is wrong? Grow up.

    I get what you’re saying, but you clearly don’t understand the history of this team, the name was honoring to a Native American chief and the logo was a fierce looking strong man, if it was a goofy looking person like the old Indians logo I would understand, but they made the logo look tough and they were respectful of the man.

    It’s interesting that “many” Native Americans weren’t offended by the name. That name seemed really bad to me. Personally all the other Native American team names being used doesn’t bother me, but that name always seemed terrible. Of course what I think is good or bad is irrelevant, but again surprising by those poll results.

    This is untrue. As a fan of the franchise because I’m a DC Native and its the team I grew up with, I think its important that people stop the false narrative about Native Americans not being offended by the name.

    “2019 web-based survey of 500 self-identified Native Americans that was reported in The Washington Post found that 68% of those polled were not offended by the Washington Redskins’ name… a 2016 Washington Post survey found that nine in 10 Native Americans polled claimed not to be bothered by the moniker. It was a telephone survey of 504 self-identified Native Americans, and the results are said to have influenced the decision of team owner Daniel Snyder to retain the Redskins’ name.”

    Meanwhile: in 2020 this study was done: link

    1,000 self-identified adult Native Americans representing 50 states and 148 tribes

    Overall, 49% of participants in the UC Berkeley study were found to strongly agree or agree that the Washington R* name is offensive, while 38% were not bothered by it. The remainder were undecided or indifferent.

    However, the number of those offended rose for study participants who were heavily engaged in their native or tribal cultures (67%), young people (60%) and people with tribal affiliations such as members of federally recognized tribes (52%)

    Personally, I hate how because of the period between 1979 and 1992 people ignore all the other problematic history of the franchise, and outside of the old uniforms (not the mascot or logo or name) I wish that everything about the former name would be left to die…

    And yes, the Commanders name still sucks.

    Could be on-trend for this region… after all, we currently have schools returning to the Confederate names they supposedly “retired” during the same way-too-short period of enlightenment.

    My 2018 Washington NFL hat hangs from a rack by my front door. I knew when I bought it I would have to get ready for a name change. This should all be past tense. Don’t kick a skunk.

    Why did the old logo have to go? I totally understand the name change but if the information I’ve read in the past is correct, a Native American leader helped create the logo, and it was based off of pictures of real Native Americans. Unless there’s something wrong with that process, I still don’t understand why they couldn’t have changed the name but kept the logo. Scrapping the logo seems more like erasure than correcting a wrong.

    Setting the old logo and name aside, can we litigate their new identity? Because the Commanders name is dumb and their branding, logo, uniforms, etc. are just awful.

    That 2016 poll was challenged in 2020, and the results were far less favorable for the racial slur fans.
    Some polls need not be taken. Not news: People believe the polls they like, and they don’t believe the ones they don’t.

    There are some interesting viewpoints here…
    This nonprofit Native American organization has a highly comprehensive section on the history (good and bad) including documentation, of this matter…

    Find it very interesting that Native Americans are more offended by the use of feathers vs the Redskins name. Never knew that.

    i kind of want them to bring back the ” Football Team” . it seemed silly at first, but the further away from it the better it looks. Colors were the same and had a nice throwback. numbers on helmets are fire for me. no dumb all black alternate and no generic W . Just seemed to celebrate Washington and no nonsense.

    I’m with you, there. I think there’s room for one ultra-generic team name in all sports because as long as it’s the exception, it makes “generic” actually unique and interesting. Also, for a team that rattles on about history and tradition of the franchise, calling yourself the “washington football team” (“club” sounds better but also more like a soccer team) automatically makes the team sound old school/old fashioned, historic, traditional, focused solely on the sport, rooted to the location more than anything else, etc etc. now bring back those throwbacks with the khaki pants. Or the yellow helmets, or the gold numbers, or basically any uni combo before this era.

    I’ll say it again: call them Washington, D.C. and put the W on one side of the helmet and rotating monuments on the other. Proper punctuation is, of course, optional.

    You know what I find ALMOST as offensive as the previous name? The name that this website uses as a shortened version of Commanders; “Commies”. That is short for Communist. I’m not sure what Commanders refers to, but in US Navy a Commander is an O-5 officer that commands ships like destroyers and submarines as also aircraft squadrons.
    I dare anyone to walk up to NAVY SEAL Commander and call him a “Commie”.

    I like to assume the Commanders are a football team and not a Navy Seal Commander. So calling them the “Commies” is just a cute pet nickname for a pretty awful football franchise. But what do I know……..

    I think most people do that as a way to point out how bad of a name Commanders is. There’s no better way to shorten it, which is pretty important for a three-syllable name.

    I doubt there are many NAVY SEAL commanders looking to catch an assault charge. I would hope that they would exercise more restraint than that.

    I agree….”commies” in the real world destroyed nations and killed millions….not exactly a light-hearted nickname….Just my 2 rubles….
    Commanders is still better than “Packers” or “49ers” or “Metropolitans” or “Socks”….only nostalgia (Trademark income) keeps those names from being changed….

    First of all it’s racist to make an assumption about one’s country of origin when you don’t know any better…
    and if you have a problem with Americans and then perhaps you should look at yourself in the mirror when you speak of a lack of self-awareness…

    I assume that a Navy SEAL commander would know the difference between a football team and people who hold a particular rank in the military but your mileage may vary.

    You are correct, a Navy SEAL knows a lot that others do not care to learn…
    and BTW, there are no actual “Navy Seal Commanders”…their boss is an Admiral….

    This is a little off topic, but speaking of D.C. I always thought it was weird when teams in domestic leagues are named nationals, capitols, Americans, and Canadians. I know it is just a team name, but feels weird when the opposing team shares that identity.

    Regardless of what you think of the old name, wearing something like that is just trying to rile people up and stir up the discussion again. I don’t know why you’d do it otherwise. Based on the owner’s comments of wanting to leave it in the past, it seems especially intentionally provocative.

    We have issues with 2 feathers on a W, but yet it’s OK to defame the Cross, the Star of David, etc.


    I’m not saying that defamation of religious imagery is okay, but religion is a choice. And… religious folks have been on the “better” end of oppression in this country for a long time.

    Your last statement does not reflect the world of the last 40 years, IMO…..
    And any religion, if properly applied, is not choice….think about it, thanks….

    I just always assumed all coaches and players just had their lockers filled with all of the newest team gear from nike or wherever and they just grabbed it to wear. Wonder how this new shirt snuck in there or how he got his hands on it. Feels a bit deliberate to be wearing that specific shirt since it wouldn’t match any of the official team gear. Definitely polarizing choice of shirt to wear to the press conference.

    Yep, I strongly believe this was intentional from Quinn’s part and it should probably get a fine from the NFL, as they do it with players wearing attire from non-sponsored brand.

    What is also clear is that the Commaders design is way to simple, to corporate-y. It doesn’t speak of football, nor the team’s history, nor the city. It needs a re-design, event if you stick to the name.

    A Washington Post poll found that 90% of Native Americans were OK with the “Redskins” name.

    Perhaps Quinn is tipping his cap to his past. He coached at William & Mary at a time when their logo had two feathers with WM.

    We Have A Winner ….


    Invert the image and his shirt is identical to a WM logo / Commander
    “W” Mashup design…

    Excellent work there, M

    The Commanders name, logo, and uniform are awful. So I have to bring up the old name, which they should’ve kept. Of course, I’m referring to Washington Football Team. It was clean, classic, and unique to the NFL.

    To me, a 60-year-old white guy, born in the Midwest, the former nickname was about as inexcusibly racist as they get. I just don’t see how anybody can defend it in any way. Your warm, fuzzy feeling of dressing up as a Native American or singing their song don’t matter. It was in use far too long and had to go.

    On the other, the nickname “Commanders” deserves all the criticism it gets. They need to re-think it and come up with something better and go back to the classic uniforms with a different helmet logo.

    The franchise should have a complete break from their history. Specifically, not integrating until they were pressured to by the government and and not changing their name until sponsors pressured them.

    I found that name pretty awful too. But it’s not up to me. As an older white guy, I can’t be more offended than the group being targeted.

    An objective non-profit Native American site…


    An in-depth history of every aspect of this subject…very complete and concise…

    They aren’t the Redsk*ns any more. They’re the Commanders. The Commanders can’t have a feather on their logo? – if I were to play Devil’s Advocate

    It just seems to me like a really weird thing for a senior team employee to do. The bootleg logo mainly communicates some level of “f- you” to the team’s current actual name and identity. It says the same thing, and serves the same purpose, as a peeing Calvin sticker. A senior team employee of almost any other professional team on the planet wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Calvin peeing on the team’s logo would result in immediate, significant, and publicly visible disciplinary action against that employee. Nothing to do with the nature of the team’s old identity; it’s just that the team has a new identity, and has been working hard against significant headwinds to establish and build that new identity. So anything that both waters down the new identity and harkens so directly back to the old identity undermines one of the team’s most important priorities as a business. And, sure, there are probably Commies employees who don’t know or care about that kind of high-level strategic corporate priority. A janitor or mailroom clerk shows up in that bootleg t-shirt? Whatever, no harm done. But a head coach? A head coach who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the priorities and interests of his team as a business? If I’m any other NFL team, I don’t hire that guy for any coaching job in the future. If he’s not the Albert Einstein of football coaching (spoiler: he’s not), then equally competent and capable coaches who do understand and give a care about the team’s business interests are dime a dozen.

    I wish Quinn and the Commies all success, but to paraphrase the greatest saying in Washington sports history, that’s a clown t-shirt, bro.

    This F’ing guy….

    Best known for the biggest choke in the Super Bowl, his last game as a DC in Dallas they gave up almost 50 at home in the playoffs, and he starts this shit before the season? Do you really need this?

    This image of his shirt has been posted millions of times online today, including on ESPN, CBSSports,, X (no, not Twitter), etc. and twice posted on Uni-Watch, along with the word “‘Skins” in the headline of this article….all without blocking the offensive area or a blur or a disclaimer for offensive imagery or language.

    I don’t think that Dan Quinn is a racist anymore than I think that these media sites are racist or were attempting to disseminate racist or offensive material online.

    Team will probably fine him for that but many players get fined by wearing “unofficial” gear, jewelry, gloves, etc….Dan may not lose much sleep over this one….

    Good looking logo. From a terrible W, to something which draws the eye better. That logo, much smaller on the left side of a shirt with no team name would be great!

    I have a feeling the NFL brass was more upset that he wore a bootleg item not on their ‘approved’ list than they are about the controversial content of said bootleg.

    If Washington had decided to go with Redhawks and then had feathers on their helmet or in their logo, there shouldn’t be anything stopping that.

    “Washington Warriors”, with the old maroon and gold unis and spear across the helmet. Not discriminating, a tip of the hat to the old days, everyone’s happy…

    Should of went with Washington RedTails – a nod to the Tuskegee Airmen, instead of Commanders but that is my 2 cents worth . . .

    Dan Quinn had to have known was he was doing when he chose to wear the t-shirt to a press conference/public appearance . . .

    If the team was in Alabama I’d be all for naming them RedTails for the Tuskegee Airmen. In DC it feels like reaching to grab someone else’s identity in a desperate need to cling to “red” as part of the name.

    Speaks to how shitty and boring the rebrand is. And the uniforms as well.
    How do you not make the most of the opportunity and shoot for “best in the league”? Instead they create an obvious “we long for the old gear” situation. Lame.

    A lot of people are attention addicts and this coach is not an exception: let’s stir things up a little before camp starts. Look at me in my bogus shirt. You look pathetic.

    Its just a shame that the USFL Washington Federals original Uniforms, Logo, Colors and Identity was wasted on that ill-fated team and league. THAT would have been a pretty good addition to the NFL and perhaps truly turned the page from this ….

    Maybe, just maybe, Stanford never got around to trademarking the nickname “Thunderchickens”. That was the name the Stanford Student Body voted for then the rebranded from Stanford Indians in the early 1970s …..

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