Washington’s NFL team announced Tuesday that its new name, which will not be the Wolves or RedWolves, will be revealed on Feb. 2.
Other finalists included Commanders, Admirals, Armanda, Brigade, Sentinels, Defenders, Red Hogs, Presidents, and the status quo “Washington Football Team.”
“We’re on the verge of a new chapter, but our history, our legacy, cannot be lost along the way,” team president Jason Wright said in an episode of the team-produced show “Making the Brand.” “It’s more important than ever to stay connected to our roots.” We recognize the significance of selecting a meaningful name: one that will serve as the team’s anchor for the next 90 years and beyond.”
Wright stated that the decision was made not to use the names Wolves or RedWolves due to trademarks held by other organizations. Those options were well-liked by Washington fans.
The new helmets and uniforms will be emblazoned with the franchise’s signature burgundy-and-gold colors, with three stars on the collar and stripes on the shoulders of otherwise plain jerseys. “I love this,” coach Ron Rivera said in a “Making the Brand” clip showing him inspecting one of the helmets. That’s right. “I believe the look will be popular.”
A “W” logo appeared in a trailer teasing the announcement. “Hail to the greats who laid the foundation for our legacy,” “Hail to the fans we consider family,” “We are and always have been Washington,” “We will fight for our community,” and “Together we will define our future” were among the messages featured in the video.
Photos of franchise legends were interspersed with images of current players meeting with military personnel and fans.
After decades of complaints that it was racist toward Native Americans and recent pressure from team sponsors, the organization dropped its old name in July 2020. The decision was made that season to be known as the Washington Football Team, which lasted until 2021 while the front office went through a lengthy rebranding process. “Our journey to a new identity is a marathon, not a sprint,” Wright said. “To get it right, we had to take every step of the process seriously, and the destination is a sum of all those parts.”
In the midst of a national reckoning on race, Washington was the first team in the four major North American professional sports leagues to abandon Native American imagery. Cleveland followed suit in Major League Baseball, adopting the new name Guardians after settling a lawsuit with a roller derby team of the same name.
The Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League have both defended their team names.
During the rebranding process, Wright stated unequivocally that Washington would not use Native American imagery in the future. He, Rivera, and others have made statements about wanting to honor the once-illustrious franchise’s history, which includes three Super Bowl victories.
“I just think the heritage and the history of our team is what’s so important, and, as fans, I think we’re going to rally around that team,” Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs said. “I’d say probably what’s more important about naming the team, it’s trying to bring everybody together. … That’s the one thing that we’ve got going for ourselves is the loyalty that we have for that team.”
In recent years, Washington hasn’t had much going on, either on or off the field. The league fined the team $10 million following an investigation into workplace conduct, owner Dan Snyder squabbled with minority partners before buying out their shares, the front office was chastised this season for botching late safety Sean Taylor’s jersey retirement, and the team has not won a playoff game in the previous 15 years.