So the football team in Washington has been forced into the reality of moving one step closer to being called something other than the name it brought down with it from Boston nearly 80 years ago: The Redskins.
U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee upheld the decision the by federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the Redskins’ nickname on the basis that it is offensive to Native Americans and in violation of the Lanham Act as part of federal trademark law.
There will likely be an appeal by the team, but there can be no denying that the ruling is a serious setback to the franchise and its fans, who use it to describe the football team they root for — not as the offensive slur that critics have waged the fight against.
It’s also an alarm to other sports teams — the Braves, the Indians, and who knows who else, depending on who is insulted by what — that the names on which they built their businesses are under attack and in danger and could wind up losing millions of dollars with an unprotected trademark.
The real fear for Redskins supporters and those fans of other teams is this — the tipping point in the boardroom.
SEE ALSO: Judge orders cancellation of Redskins trademark registration
Will this court decision be the push for a major NFL or team sponsor to side with the name-changers? Although the comparisons to the Confederate flag are ridiculous, we have seen how quickly a change can snowball with one particular event or circumstance.
The Redskins may choose to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court. But a setback like this may start that social media snowball that rolls all the way into an NFL sponsors corporate headquarters — and put real pressure on sports teams and leagues, who may find themselves on the defensive trying to battle special interests groups that could find Yankees or Cowboys or some other name offensive.
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.