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Professional Sports has had problems with team nicknames for years. The Atlanta Braves and The Cleveland Indians in baseball and The Washington Redskins of football have been attacked for their ethnically insensitive team monikers. The Washington Bullets of the NBA went so far as to change their name to The Washington Wizards to disassociate themselves with gang violence, and back in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns changed their name to the Baltimore Ravens to disassociate themselves from the town of Cleveland.

But this controversy has finally come to a head with the protest of the San Francisco 49ers by an organized group of the nation's 49-year-olds.

The protest is led by The Organization for Fair Treatment of 49-Year-Olds in Sports. Based out of a nameless town in Nebraska, The O.F.T.49.Y.O.S. has produced a series of pamphlets and infomercials showing how the media misrepresents 49-year-olds and their behavior patterns.

"It's a disgrace! I don't even like football!" Bemoans Topeka native Brian Hurst, 49. "Ever since I turned 49 two months ago, it's been nothing but heartache and pain."

O.F.T.49.Y.O.S. President Sherry Palmer, 49, agrees. "What we're trying to do is create an awareness around the plight of 49-year-olds of the world today. The San Francisco 49ers football franchise is the main instigator of these prejudiced thoughts, and we're not going to stand for it any more!"

Grievances stated by The O.F.T.49.Y.O.S. against the San Francisco 49ers are based on the fact that the San Francisco 49ers are a team of large, sweaty men who play football, an incredibly violent game. "Some of our members aren't even men!" cries Palmer.

The group's protest is mostly made up of new members, as last year's protesters seem to have lost their enthusiasm. "It's lost its meaning to me." says Richard Hammel, 50. "Last year I really felt that what we were doing was right, but now, I don't know. I just don't feel the love."

Whatever the reasons, one thing is clear. This year's protest is here to stay, with such planned events as next week's 49 cent Chili Cook-Off, an upcoming Sack Race, and next month's "Dick Clark -- 49 4-ever!" Film Festival.

For their part, the San Francisco 49ers Organization has declined to comment on the charges, saying only that they expect to batter opponents dead all year long, like any good 49er would.

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