What's in a name? If you guessed an unwillingness to move forward and a bill for $100,000, you're absolutely right.
As the plans to revive Ottawa football chug forward, we've been made familiar with the three interested parties: The Golden Gate/Jeff Hunt conglomerate, brewery entrepreneur Frank D'Angelo, and an American investment group, which notably includes former CFLer Bill Palmer.
Each group is beginning to promote its cause. Every party believes it has the solution to topple Ottawa's mountain of football woes.
More beer. More kids. Then there's the elusive trifecta: More beer, kids and women.
But Palmer's party wants to begin with tradition. That's why he has reportedly reached an agreement with former owner Horn Chen to purchase the rights of the old Rough Riders name and logo, for a cool six figures.
Money can buy a lot of things. Unfortunately, sanity isn't one of them.
What does this boil down to? In a nutshell, tradition and sentimental value. Palmer admitted as much. And who cares about old-school sentiment? The hardcore fans, of course.
The ones you wouldn't have to beg in order to come back.
News flash, potential owners: It's the new-school supporters that you're looking to rope. And you're going to accomplish this with an ''R'' logo? Why not just resurrect the 1994-95 emblem? You can't go wrong with a cartoon version of Lanny McDonald in a fur hat and kerchief. Then there's the name -- again, a touchstone for the old-school crowd.
But for so many potential season-ticket holders, this name is a source of mockery that has reached the realms of pop culture.
(Aside -- My favourite excuse for allowing two teams to use the same name sounds something like this: ''They're not really the same, you know. Ottawa used to break up the name into two words, whereas Saskatchewan spells it as one.'' You're kidding me, right? We're justifying blatant ridicule with semantics?)
AVOID THE SCARVES
If this is truly intended to be Ottawa's newest (and most successful) era of football, shouldn't we avoid anything involving the 18th letter of the alphabet and little caricatures sporting scarves?
But what can we look for in a name? Here are some points to consider:
- Animals are usually a safe bet, but they must have roamed the Earth during the last few centuries. No dinosaurs allowed. Birds can get a little sketchy. Is there anything truly menacing about an Oriole? Proceed with caution.
- No descriptive names, ie. Chill, Rage, etc. The only visual they provide is one of mediocrity. It's like running into Maurice Clarett while he's sipping a martini and shopping for ammunition -- avoid at all costs. The CFL already fights for legitimacy amongst its critics. Don't do anything that gives off the aura of arena football.
- Think about what the media will do with the name. Editors have a daily pun quota to fill, and they love to create alternate monikers and short forms. The Chicago White Sox, in spite of all their history, have been saddled with ''Pale Hose.'' It sounds like a geriatric support garment.
- Speaking of Sox, no laundry references. And don't even think about using incorrect grammar (Toronto, I'm looking at you).
- For the sake of fans coming across the bridges, the name should be bilingual. Gatineau supporters were widely ignored during Ottawa's last attempt at maintaining a franchise. Bring them into the fold right away with a name they'll relate to -- consider it an immediate shot in the arm to the fan base.
The most important ingredients required for a CFL revival in Ottawa will be strong ownership, and a competent front office.
But choosing the right name is integral to achieving marketing success.
You should never ignore your core fan group, but if you feel confident about its unwavering support, shouldn't a new owner concentrate on what might appeal to the rest of the city?
ERA HAS PAST
There was a time and place for the Rough Riders, and it has since past.
Tradition will always hold weight, but there are still too many painful memories associated with that name, and time has not yet bridged a gap large enough to make it worthwhile.
All of these parties say they have fresh ideas. Creating a brand new identity for Ottawa football should definitely be one of them.