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WHEEL ROUTES: Shut Up, Redskins Fans

Welcome to WHEEL ROUTES, the offseason feature where Robert Wheel recaps everything you need to know from the week in pro football. This week, the Redskins' racist name, why Chip Kelly isn't good for Michael Vick and more.


Redskins Name Change

The Redskins name-change debate flared up again this week after the mayor of Washington, D.C., said the team would have to consider a change if it moved back to the city. The Redskins fired back with its idiotic "Redskins pride" series where they interviewed podunk high school teams with the same team name because they like the style of that Dodge farmer commercial. Using rural small towns as proof of your own righteousness works for trucks, and the Redskins want to make it work for football.

Oh, and a Redskins offensive lineman waded into a racial debate on Twitter and said he wished people were offended by the national debt, guaranteeing that the only endorsement deals he gets will be for those "invest in gold" lunatics that advertise during Glenn Beck.

Anyway, in case you still think the Redskins should keep their name, I came up with a simple game called PROBLEM OR NOT A PROBLEM:

PROBLEM: A professional football team's nickname is a racial slur that brings up more than 400 years of fraught history.

NOT A PROBLEM: We'd have to change our team's chant.

PROBLEM: The team chose its name when it was run by a virulent racist and it was meant to "honor" the Native American heritage of its coach, and that epithet is now offensive to a large section of the Native American population.

NOT A PROBLEM: This is just politically correct softies infringing on our First Amendment rights.

PROBLEM: Redskins proponents think that this is a First Amendment issue when the First Amendment protects only against government sanction of free speech. The government has not sanctioned the speech here, rather it is private groups demanding the name change.

(The mayor of DC does want a name change, but if a city is going to potentially shell out hundreds of millions for a new stadium, it has the prerogative to demand the team not have an insensitive name. It's similar to how the Secretary of the Interior forced the Redskins to finally field black players in 1962(!) as a condition of using RFK Stadium.)

NOT A PROBLEM: We can find Native Americans who aren't offended by this nickname.

PROBLEM: You're a person offended by the Redskins' nickname and your opponents portray your ethnic group as monolithic. The fact that some people similarly situated to you are not offended does nothing to allay the pain you feel.

NOT A PROBLEM: I've cheered for this team since I was kid and this ruins its traditions.

PROBLEM: There are people who think their sports team's history is more important than racial issues that have affected my entire life.

So shut up, Redskins name proponents. You do not know what real problems are.


Eagles re-sign Michael Vick, bring in Dennis Dixon

Nick Foles in a third-string effort? I'm not sure yet, but one thing I do know is that Chip Kelly is bad for Michael Vick. That's because Vick's inability to stay healthy is a major detriment in Kelly's system. It has nothing to do with the actual plays that Kelly runs, but rather the pace. A faster pace means more plays, and more plays means more chances that Vick gets hit (and hurt). Add in a dodgy offensive line and I'd take the under on the preseason prop bet on games played by Vick.

Meanwhile the Eagles signed Dennis Dixon to a two-year contract and those of us who remember the Spurrier era in Washington were reminded of the time that he brought in Danny Wuerffel. But take a look at Wuerffel's stats prior to joining the Redskins against Dixon's prior to joining the Eagles.

Wuerffel: 126/258 (48.8%), 1,404 yards, 9 TD, 16 INT

Dixon: 35/59 (59.3%), 402 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT

It's a smaller sample size but Dixon wasn't as bad. Both teams took fliers on 28-year-olds who hadn't thrown a pass in the past two seasons, but Dixon could work out better.


Who likes to rock the party? Gronk likes to rock the party.

He's running up big tabs in Vegas (though $10,000 isn't that bad when you compare it to the former mayor of San Diego gambling more than $1 billion over the past decade) and going to the Oscars. If there were a Mount Rushmore of SBNation spirit animals, Gronkowski would be on there with Rasheed Wallace, Johnny Manziel and retired Chipper Jones.


Charlotte is going to build the Panthers a new stadium eventually

The Panthers are asking the city of Charlotte to shell out $144 million for improvements to Bank of America Stadium. The city responded by proposing to raise $1 billion through a food and beverage tax. Food and beverage taxes disproportionately hit poor people (everybody's got to eat; this isn't a Cartier watch tax). So Charlotte is going to make sure that they have enough money for a new stadium in 15 years by screwing over its poorest residents. Welcome to the NFL in the 21st Century.


James Harrison joined a rec league dodgeball team

This is bullcrap. People join rec league dodgeball to meet other hipsters. You want to smash bits, not get smashed by a professional athlete, let alone a crazy professional athlete who calls himself a Silverback. Not cool, Harrison.