False alarm: Vikings won’t play 2019 game as the Duluth Eskimos

The Vikings are not going to play a game this season as the Duluth Eskimos. There was buzz created Tuesday when attention was brought to the fact the NFL filed a trademark application for the Duluth Eskimos name earlier this month as its 100th season nears.

Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney, took to Twitter and noted a portion of a sentenceĀ from the filing that caught his interest: “Education and entertainment services in the nature of professional football games and exhibitions.” (Hat tip to MSN Sports for picking up on this.)

“What this language means, in the trademark world, is this is the name of a football team,” Gerben explained in the MSN piece. “And in order for a trademark application to ultimately register, you must use the trademark for the services identified in the application. So it would be very odd for the NFL to have put this language in the application and not intend to actually have a team playing a game under this name.”

But Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ executive vice president of public affairs, said in a text message that the team isn’t planning to play a game under the Eskimos name or in their uniforms.

A statement issued by the Vikings read:

“As part of the programming around the NFL’s 100th season, the Vikings will celebrate Minnesota’s rich football history, including the unique role the Duluth Eskimos played in the early years of the NFL. The Eskimos exhibit is one of the most popular attractions in the Vikings Museum and we want to bring increased awareness to that history throughout the 2019 season.

“These plans do not include a team name change or a new team uniform but are instead centered around content, event activations and merchandise. We look forward to sharing our full “NFL 100″ plans prior to the 2019 season.”

Sounds like while the Vikings won’t wear Eskimos uniforms, the merchandise will be available.

The Eskimos began play in the 1920s, starting as the Duluth Kelleys, named after the Kelley-Duluth Hardware Store, but changed to the Eskimos after the hardware store stopped sponsoring the club. The Eskimos were an NFL team in 1926 and 1927 and withdrew from the league after the 1927 season.