Headless Horseman Considerations for the Washington Redskins

selective focus close up photo of brown wilson pigskin football on green grass

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com


President of the Washington Irving Society

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Several ideas for blogs have been swirling through my brain, most notably Irving’s connections with Alexander Hamilton and wild theories about Irving’s biography on Christopher Columbus. It never ceases to amaze me how relevant Washington Irving can be.

Despite other writing plans, this morning as I was checking social media, one post struck my fancy. Jazz Funkenstein, with a Twitter descriptor of “Not gonna tweet about the Loch Ness Monster, but he/she is still very on my mind,” writes: “The Redskins should change their name to the Washington Irving’s and have their mascot be a headless horseman. That would be badass.”

Another hessians

On behalf of the Irving Society, I liked and retweeted the post, and didn’t really think too much about the Washington Irvings and a D.C. horseman. That is, until an hour or so later, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I’m not suggesting that an NFL team take Jazz Funkenstein’s idea to heart, nor do I expect anyone involved in this decision to read my blog, but I would like to highlight a few quirky coincidences for Washington Irving scholars and fans. If Tracy Hoffman owned the Redskins franchise, we’d certainly consider the possibility of the Washington Hessians. Here are some reasons why.

First off, Washington Irving was a diplomat in his later years, serving as Ambassador to Spain, and he spent considerable time in Washington, D.C. Scholars have Irving’s journals with thoughts and notes from his visits. We also know as a young boy, he met George Washington in New York, a reminder that the first capital was in New York, not in the District of Columbia.

And that leads to a second point: Columbia. Too often Washington Irving is solely credited for making Columbus famous in America. The District of Columbia reminds us that America considered Columbus long before Irving wrote his famous biography about him.

Thirdly, according to a city proclamation, Irving, Texas, was named after Washington Irving. And Dallas Cowboys fans know that Irving, Texas, is also the former home of the Dallas Cowboys. That’s an interesting circle to consider. If the Redskins borrowed a mascot associated with the former home of the Dallas Cowboys: well, that would be an interesting twist to their rivalry.

Lastly, we should remember that Irving wrote A Tour on the Prairies about his adventure to the Oklahoma Territory, and he wrote two other western narratives, too. He romanticizes Native-Americans, and we must recognize this, but his empathy for their plight and harsh criticism of American policy toward them should also be noted.

Some scholars think of Irving as our gentleman writer who spent an extraordinary amount of time abroad, and such an assessment is correct. However, upon his return to America in the 1830s, he headed westward and wrote of his experiences there. This was a major shift in his body of writing. You can’t fully understand his life’s work without knowing about his western narratives.

So there you have it: a handful of thoughts for a headless horseman mascot in Washington, D.C. I’ll try to stay posted on this matter and get back with you in the future.

Until my next post on a Washington Irving Wednesday, please stay healthy.

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Feel free to add to the conversation wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. Comments are very much welcomed. If you need a thoughtful reply, please message me at Tracy_Hoffman@baylor.edu. I try to respond to Washington Irving Society-related email on Wednesdays, and I also update the WIS page on Washington Irving Wednesdays. If things get hectic, my email responses might get backlogged for awhile, so be patient with me. I eventually get around to reading and responding personally to all messages, most likely on Wednesdays.


Published in: on July 8, 2020 at 8:24 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Absolutely love the idea!!!!Mary


  2. For the publications list:


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