Mehno: It’s time for Chief Wahoo to go away

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — Chief Wahoo is retiring. More accurately, Chief Wahoo is being retired.

The Cleveland Indians announced they will eliminate the cartoon Chief from their uniform at the end of the upcoming season.

The Chief has been a focal point for protests for years now. Native American groups have found the cartoon version, with its big nose and teeth, insulting.

The Indians have been minimizing the Chief in recent years. Until a few years ago, he was pictured on their caps. He was replaced by a plain block letter “C.” The Chief was consigned to a small sleeve patch on some versions of the Indians’ jerseys.

When the team still played at old Municipal Stadium, there was a huge likeness of the Chief wielding a bat over one of the outfield walls. It was visible from blocks away.

It remains to be seen how serious the Indians are about purging Chief Wahoo from their image. Like all teams, the Indians sell a line of throwback apparel. Will their retail outlets still offer the vintage jerseys and caps that feature the Chief?

Just another detail to consider as the Indians try to catch up with the times.

Jagr leaves

One of these days, Jaromir Jagr will be back in Pittsburgh, standing on the ice at PPG Paints Arena, watching his No. 68 being raised to the roof.

The Penguins will eventually retire his number, and they should.

Jagr spent the first 11 seasons of his storied NHL career with the Penguins. He arrived as a teenager from the Czech Republic, wide-eyed at all the things America had to offer — fast cars, malls and football games with point spreads.

His hockey gifts were obvious from the start. He had the chance to apprentice under some of the best players in the game.

He eventually soured on Pittsburgh and wanted out. The Penguins, facing financial problems, were happy to move him and his gigantic contract. He went to Washington for a bundle of nothing.

Games in Pittsburgh as an opposing player were tough. Fans booed every time he touched the puck. He tried to shake it off, but it was obvious the reaction hurt him.

He considered an offer to return to Pittsburgh, but spurned the Penguins at the last minute and went to Philadelphia instead.

Now it looks like he’s done in NHL, waived by Calgary weeks short of his 46th birthday. He’s gone back to the Czech Republic to play for a team he owns.

One of these days, a Pittsburgh number will show up on his phone and he’ll come back to get the honor he earned.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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