Updated February 2, 2022 9:56 a.m. ET
After 18 months of speculation (and internet research), the Washington football team officially unveiled their new name on Wednesday – the Commanders.
“It’s a name that has the weight and meaning befitting a 90-year-old franchise,” team president Jason Wright said when announcing the new name on the website. Today’s show Wednesday morning.
“It’s something that has resonated widely with our fans,” he added, “and it’s something that we believe embodies the values of service and leadership that truly define the DMV. [the District, Maryland and Virginia] in this community.”
The team colors will remain burgundy and gold. Its logo is centered on a capital “W” and the new uniforms also incorporate elements of the DC flag, with three stars and two bars. As for a new mascot and fight song, Wright said the team wants their fans to help work on those ideas.
Wright announced the name at FedEx Field alongside former Washington quarterback Doug Williams. Asked about his initial reaction upon hearing the new name, Williams said, “I’m going to embrace the Commanders, because that’s what we are, and we need to move on.”
“I like the name,” he added. “He has a good sound.”
Wednesday’s big announcement ends months of research, focus groups and fan submissions for new names. On Twitter, the reactions were decidedly mixed, with some fans complaining that the name wasn’t as exciting as the “Red Wolves” – an idea the team previously rejected.
Other comments have noted that this is the second professional football team for the commanders, after the Franchising San Antonio of the short-lived American Football League Alliance.
“Two years of ‘branding’ to even copy a team’s hashtag from 2019”, a user wroteby calling the hashtag #takecommand.
The team dropped its old name – the Washington Redskins – in July 2020 after years of pressure to drop it due to its racist overtones against Native Americans, a name it had held for 87 years.
Last August, the team banned fans from wearing “Native American-inspired” dresses inside its stadium, such as headdresses and face paint. The new directive was announced in a stadium policy and protocol update ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
Detectives speculated on the new name for weeks
Before Washington Commanders made their official announcement on his new team name, some internet sleuths discovered him a little earlier than expected.
Just last week, a Twitter user by the name of LarryLegendBTW noticed that the Commanders.com domain had been transferred to California-based MarkMonitor, the company the NFL uses to monitor most of its team and brand domain names, according to Sporting News.
Sporting News reported that all but six NFL teams have their team websites on MarkMonitor – the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders and New York Texans. Houston all use Network Solutions, while the Washington football team (now Commanders) uses GoDaddy.
“There are two reasons you acquire a name. One is that you acquire it out of pure speculation, and you keep it. And the second is that you buy it because you want to use it,” said tech expert Shawn DuBravac at Fox 5 DC TV channel. “And usually when you buy it and want to use it, you’re going to move it to where you’re going to deploy it.”
A few names were on the table from the start
Wright said in a statement last month that there was no option on the team’s new name: anything to do with “Wolves” or “Red Wolves.”
While “Red Wolves” was a fan favourite, Wright said “trademarks held by other teams would limit our ability to make the name our own. And without Wolves, variations like RedWolves wouldn’t have been viable either for these and other reasons.”
In July 2021, Wright rescinded another possible team name choice – the Warriors – “with the clear acknowledgment that it aligns too closely with Native American themes”.
For a very long time, the team’s owner – Dan Snyder – had brushed off lobbying efforts by Native American activists and groups to change the franchise’s name.
“We’ll never change the name,” he told USA Today in 2013. “It’s as simple as that. NEVER – you can use capital letters.”
But seven years later, pressure for the team’s name change has resurfaced following the murder of George Floyd and national outcry over racial and social injustices for people of color.
The organization has its fair share of problems
News of the team’s new name and branding comes following an investigation into workplace misconduct within the organization.
The investigation, sparked by a series of Washington Post reports in 2020, looked into the alleged sexual harassment suffered by employees of the women’s team and the abuse of the team’s cheerleaders.
Following the team’s investigation, the NFL fined the football team $10 million.
The House Oversight Committee will host a roundtable Thursday with several former team employees to discuss “issues with workplace misconduct and the National Football League’s (NFL) inability to take action.” measures to prevent sexual harassment and verbal abuse within the WFT under the leadership of owner Dan Snyder.”
According to the committee, the roundtable aims to inform “potential legislative solutions” to protect workers against harassment and discrimination.
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