Washington Football Team to Get a New Name on Wednesday
The Washington Football Team, which had used a name more akin to a soccer club as a stand-in to shift away from a racial slur, is ready to reveal a new identity.
Nearly two years after dropping its longtime name and logo, the team will unveil replacements on Wednesday, completing a rebrand for an organization that in recent years has been plagued by off-field scandals and dismal on-field performances.
The team has said it will keep its traditional burgundy and gold colors. It also teased some potential monikers, like the RedWolves, Admirals, Generals, Armada and Presidents, in social media announcements and statements from Jason Wright, the team’s president.
Wright, in statements posted to the team’s website, eliminated some names from contention because they conflicted with trademarks held by other teams, including two variations of the RedWolves name, which had been favored by some fans.
On Tuesday, Joe Theismann, the former quarterback who helped the team win one of its three Super Bowl titles, teased another contender. In an interview with CBS Sports Radio, Theismann said he thought the Commanders was a name “that is going to be hopefully one people talk about moving forward.” Footage from the local NBC affiliate’s helicopter camera Tuesday night showed a banner that said “Commanders” inside the team’s stadium.
Whatever the name, the process has been unusual. Teams are sometimes renamed or rebranded when they move to different cities or are sold to new owners. The Rams kept their name and colors but changed their logo and uniforms when they moved to Los Angeles from St. Louis before the 2016 season. In Major League Baseball, the Marlins replaced Florida with Miami in their name when they moved to a stadium in city limits. The current Cleveland Browns are a reactivated version of the team after Art Modell moved his version to Baltimore and it became the Ravens.
The Washington Football Team, though, has taken on a new identity under duress. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, resisted calls for years from fans, sponsors and Native American groups to drop the previous franchise name, which had long been considered a racial slur of Native Americans. Snyder also fended off legal challenges aimed at stripping the team of its trademarks.
But in July 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by the police, and a national debate that followed over the treatment of nonwhite people, Snyder relented and discarded the name “Redskins,” which had stood for 87 years.
Unlike prior calls to change the name, Snyder also faced pressure from sponsors like Nike, Pepsi and FedEx, which threatened to remove its corporate name from the team’s stadium in Maryland if no action was taken.
To buy time, the team used a generic identifier while it began a search for a new name and logo.
During that time, the Cleveland M.L.B. team dropped its longtime name, which also included Native American imagery, and changed it to the Guardians.
In some ways, developing a new name and logo has been a welcome distraction for a club dogged by negative news. Through most of 2020 and 2021, Snyder was involved in a contentious fight with three longtime limited partners in the franchise. After several rounds of mudslinging and court battles, the league’s owners agreed to let Snyder buy out his former partners for $875 million and fully consolidate his ownership of the team.
At the same time, the league took over an investigation into reports of widespread harassment of women who worked for the team, allegations that dated back nearly two decades. In July, N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell fined the franchise a record $10 million and ordered Snyder to stay away from the team’s facilities for several months.
He was, however, allowed to continue the team’s search for a new name and logo, as well as a new stadium. Half that work will soon be unveiled.