Dan Quinn's feather T-shirt could be a rallying cry for a return to Washington's greatness

Dan Quinn and his T-shirt, with dual feathers dangling prominently from the W, have definitely gotten a lot of coverage. 

The Washington Commanders coach wore the T-shirt to his press conference on Saturday and reporters immediately reached for their phone cameras to get snapshots.

Dan Quinn Joins The Culture War


Dan Quinn at OTAs

Head coach Dan Quinn of the Washington Commanders looks on during Washington Commanders Rookie Minicamp at OrthoVirginia Training Center on May 10, 2024 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

So what do we have here? 

Well, I bet about 50% of the country would deem this to be a controversial and even offensive choice of wardrobe because the feathers come from the team’s old logo and remind them of the old, offensive nickname. And, oh yeah, this is what they call cultural appropriation.

But the other 50% of the country would deem the look as wholly appropriate and not only amazing, but cool and a statement worthy of praise.

And, by the way, where can we buy one of those?

So, like it or not, knowingly or not, Quinn has entered the culture war. In the nation’s capitol, no less.

Nobody Asked The Money Question


I’d love to know what Quinn was thinking when he put on that T-shirt. But we don’t know because the same reporters who were snapping photos of the shirt and uploading those to social media didn’t ask any questions about the shirt.

So I suppose somebody will, you know, raise the issue at Tuesday’s press conference for the sake of understanding the full context of the gesture.

But until he speaks on the subject, I’m going to believe the best of Dan Quinn. 

I’m going to believe Quinn wore that feathered shirt as a nod to the proud tradition and history of the Washington Commanders franchise.

I’m going to believe he was sending a message that all the success that came to the franchise decades ago can be recaptured in the future under his tenure.

And I’m going to believe he realizes all of that greatness came when the franchise name was the Washington Redskins.

Dan Quinn speaks during to a news conference

Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Commanders coach Dan Quinn during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Feathers A Nod To The Past

That’s kind of a deep message to draw from two dangling feathers, I know.

But the people who are aghast that the unlicensed and (they’d say) borderline racist T-shirt made a public debut are similarly digging deep for the meaning of, well, feathers.

Those feathers were obviously part of the old Redskins logo. And Native American culture. 

But around 2020, when change protesters were on the march and populist opinion was in retreat, the Redskins sought safety in trying to be as vanilla as possible with their branding – sort of like they had been with their offense.

So the Washington Redskins became the Washington Football Team for the 2020 season. And fans hated it.

I mean, go WFT?

Hail to the WFTs?

Like, WTF?

The change took a lot of leftist heat off the franchise. But it also disappointed many fans who grew up on John Riggins, Billy Kilmer, Charley Taylor, Joe Gibbs, Mark Rypien, Joe Theismann, George Allen, Ken Houston, Mike Bass, Darrell Green, Dexter Manley and many others.

The franchise was still there, but nothing else really was. Not the logo, not the nickname, not the fight song, and certainly not the success.

Dan Quinn introduced

Dan Quinn speaks at a press conference at Commanders Park in Ashburn, VA on February  5, 2024. The Commanders announced that former Dallas Cowboy Defensive Coordinator Mike Quinn as the new Head Coach of the Washington Commanders. (Michael A. McCoy /For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Was Quinn Sending A Message?

That’s why Quinn’s choice of wardrobe on Saturday was eye-opening to some people not offended by the feathers from the old logo. 

To them, those feathers acknowledge that glorious past. The feathers suggest Quinn embraces that past. And maybe hint that recapturing that past is Quinn’s objective. 

Look, I’m not an expert on what is in or out of bounds when it comes to Native American culture. 

I obviously understand calling the franchise “the Redskins” is offensive to some people, with Native Americans being the most important of that group to consider. Going back to that is likely a non-starter. And that is a fair opinion to have in the 21st century.

But the logo?

I believe Native American opinions on all subjects differ, just like any other people’s does. And I know that many members of the Blackfeet tribe, from which the old logo was inspired, viewed the logo with pride. 

It was a depiction of a long-ago American, and it was displayed with no less respect than, say, an Old West cowboy wearing leather chaps, boots and spurs.

Both are accurate depictions of American culture.

So why should one disappear in Washington and the other live on in Dallas?

Josh Harris looks on before NFL game

Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris looks on from the sidelines prior to a game against the San Francisco 49ers at FedExField on December 31, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Change That Logo, Josh Harris

New Commanders owner Josh Harris and his management team have been working hard to overwrite the remaining vestiges of the Daniel Snyder ownership era. 

They’ve poured some money into FedEx Field in Maryland and are working on finding a site for a new stadium. They’ve moved on from the old personnel department. They’ve changed the coaching staff.

Why not change the logo and maybe even the nickname again?

Why not recognize a legacy written from 1937 to 2019 in those changes? 

It should be noted that both the removal of the old logo and nickname and attachment of the new ones were Snyder projects. The former owner resisted making the changes but relented under pressure. 

And as with anything done unwillingly, it was a mess.

The new logo is a standalone W that must have taken some marketing giant all of 10 seconds to conjure.

And the new nickname of Commanders is more thoughtful than the W, but not by a lot.

So change it all, maybe in time to open a new stadium. What’s the argument against that? 

I have no clue how Quinn stands on the issue. If he discusses it Tuesday, he might take the easy approach and dismiss the matter entirely. He might say the feathered T-Shirt was simply the next one up in his closet (coaches like the whole next one up thing) so on it went.

Dan Quinn speaks during a press conference

Head coach Dan Quinn of the Washington Commanders speaks during a press conference at OrthoVirginia Training Center at Commanders Park on February 05, 2024 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)


But, you see, there’s a little rebel to Quinn and he’s very smart. I can’t believe he didn’t know what he was doing when he slipped that feathered T-shirt over his head.

That’s the guy I want to see talk about the subject on Tuesday. That’s the guy I want coaching the team with feathers as part of the logo.

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