John Riggins feels ‘disenfranchised’ by Washington name change


John Riggins, Washington legend, does not seem willing to say his former team’s name any longer, understanding it is harmful to many Native Americans.

But as Riggins sees the name disappear and the “Washington Commanders” come into existence, it feels as if he has “entered oblivion.”

“I feel completely disenfranchised,” the Hall of Fame running back said on his podcast, “The John Riggins Show” this week. “I cannot for the life of me — this is me, John Riggins, talking here — I can’t understand how anybody who once played under the old franchise name, the original franchise name, could possibly want to be a part of anything with ‘Washington Commanders.’”

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For the Feb. 2 announcement of the new team name, notable Washington alumni, including Doug Williams, Joe Theismann, Mark Moseley, Dexter Manley and Rick “Doc Walker,” showed up for the official re-brand.

John Riggins
John Riggins feels ‘completely disenfranchised’ after Washington’s name change.
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To Riggins, who starred from 1971-75 with the Jets at running back before signing with Washington, where he spent nine seasons that included becoming Super Bowl XVII MVP, it felt twisted to see icons of the franchise embrace the change. He doesn’t begrudge them, but must think his history is being erased.

“I look at them and go, ‘What’s wrong with you? Don’t you get it?’” Riggins said on “The John Riggins Show.”

“‘You were invited to your own funeral.’ But not everybody looks at it that way.”

John Riggins
John Riggins
Getty Images

Riggins is not anti-name change. In fact, he said he suggested changing the name to Daniel Snyder shortly after the billionaire bought the team.

“Before all this, I always felt like it was a term of honor. But then I realized well, I’m not a Native American,” the 72-year-old said. “There’s some that don’t have a problem with it, there’s some that are offended.”

But seeing it happen — and not even being able to say the name of the team he helped in 1982 to its first Super Bowl in franchise history — has Riggins feeling left behind.



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