LONG OVERDUE

Here's a fascinating perspective on renaming the Redskins

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

When Brett Favre was lighting up the scoreboard as quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi in the late '80s and early '90s, the school's nickname was "The Golden Eagles." But when Jimmy Buffett went to Southern Miss in the mid '60s, the nickname was "The Southerners." And a few decades before that, the nickname was "The Confederates."

Both times, "The Southerners" and "The Confederates" made students uncomfortable and they voted to change the nickname, landing on "The Golden Eagles," which happens to be one of the best nicknames in college sports, that everybody can rally behind, and nobody's offended.

See? That didn't hurt.

The NFL's team in Washington, our nation's capital, appears ready, finally, to drop "Redskins" in favor of something that isn't a horribly offensive racist slur against Native Americans. Owner Daniel Snyder is doing this totally on his own, without any pressure from sponsors or retail stores that are pulling his team's gear off their shelves, or polls that show Americans are repulsed by the term "Redskins." He just wants to do the right thing. Yeah, right.

This isn't the first time an NFL team has changed its nickname – about one-quarter of teams have done it. The Washington case is unique for one reason, however. It's unbelievable that the league allowed a team, since Washington's inception in 1932, to call itself a racist epithet. And allowed its owner to defend the nickname for so long and promise never to change it. Now Snyder says he's committed to a "thorough review" of possibly changing the nickname. I'm guessing he wants to thoroughly review how much money this is going to cost him.

Several college programs have changed their nickname from Native American imagery to less offensive, more socially acceptable terms. Stanford was the "Indians," for decades, changed it to "Cardinals" in 1972 and shortened it to "Cardinal" in 1981. It hasn't seemed to put a dent in Stanford's winning ways. St. John's University changed its nickname from "Redmen" (including an unflattering cartoon logo of a Native American in full headdress) to "The Red Storm" in 1994. Miami University (Ohio) teams were called "Redskins" until 1997, when they switched to "RedHawks."

A very similar controversy, changing a school's nickname from something unimaginably offensive to something everybody could cheer for, happened in Houston less than 10 years ago, and I eavesdropped on it many times in my living room.

In 2014, under orders from Houston Independent School District officials, Lamar High School changed its nickname from "Redskins" to "Texans." Some of the school's athletes and, this surprised me, some of the parents were very angry about the change. I heard several of the players say, "We're still going to call ourselves 'Redskins.' We're still going to break huddles by shouting 'Redskins.' That's not going to change."

I stuck my nose into the discussion. It's not one of my more attractive qualities, and it wasn't the first time I heard, "Why can't you just stay upstairs and leave my friends alone?"

"Let me tell you something, guys. I know this nickname business is important to you now, but I promise it won't matter one bit once you leave high school for college or the military or a work career. This isn't a big deal. If the nickname hurts people's feelings, that's enough to change it. I went to Thomas Jefferson High School. Our nickname was 'The Minutemen.' Not once, not for a moment, have I identified as a Minuteman or thought of myself as a Minuteman. Although I was called that a couple of times early on … and it wasn't a compliment."

Three other HISD schools were directed to change their "culturally offensive" nicknames: Hamilton Middle School switched from "Indians" to "Huskies": Westbury High School went from "Rebels" to "Huskies"; and Welch Middle School dropped "Warriors" for "Wolf Pack."

Two years later, HISD officials changed the names of eight local schools named for leaders of the Confederacy. Among them, Robert E. Lee High School became Margaret Long Wisdom High School, and Jefferson Davis High School became Northside High School.

I believe these were positive steps for Houston. The names of Confederate heroes belong in history books, not on school buildings. Nobody is denying our history or heritage, but history belongs in museums, not on school uniforms worn by descendants of slaves. If it hurts people's feelings, stop doing it.

One big difference between HISD becoming enlightened about school names and mascots and the situation with the NFL team in Washington? It cost HISD about $1.5 million to research the name changes and buy new uniforms and logos. In Washington, owner Dan Snyder will make millions from longtime fans buying up old Redskins gear and hitting the Nike store for first-edition T-shirts and jerseys with the new name and logo. The early favorite seems to be "Warriors" without any images of Native Americans or feathers. It's about time – just long, long overdue.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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