The Commanders are the new name for Washington’s NFL club.
The new name, which was announced on Wednesday, comes 18 months after the once-famous club ditched its original title in the face of decades of criticism that it was disrespectful to Native Americans, as well as renewed pressure from sponsors. After two seasons of being known as the Washington Football Team, the organization pledged to eliminate Native American iconography in its branding.
Washington is the most recent major American professional sports club to drop its Native American-related name, and it was considered one of the most heinous.
Richard Sneed, main chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina, has stated that Native Americans had more to worry about than sports team names, but during the World Series, he stated that “the only name I felt was disparaging” was Washington. That is, indeed, offensive. The rest of them never bothered me and continue to do so to this day.”
While the Cleveland Guardians of Major League Baseball have changed their name, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, and baseball’s Atlanta Braves have stated that they have no plans to do so.
Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Capitals, is “happy” about the new look, which “honors our local origins and what it means to represent the nation’s capital.”
“As we begin our 90th season, it is critical that our organization and fans honor our previous traditions, history, heritage, and the greats who came before us,” Snyder said. “While forging a route to a new age in Washington, we continue to revere and represent the Burgundy and Gold.”
Washington had used the moniker Redskins from 1932 until two seasons ago, which insulted Native Americans and others.
The Commanders wear the same burgundy and gold colors as the three Super Bowl victories they won during their golden days in the 1980s and early 1990s. It is the result of club president Jason Wright and coach Ron Rivera’s desire for the new moniker to have a military link.
Commanders were picked above Red Hogs, Admirals, and Presidents as finalists. Because of copyright and trademark issues, Red Wolves, an early fan favorite, was thrown out earlier in the process.
The rebranding process began in the summer of 2020, when team management chose the interim moniker of Washington Football Team, which they kept through the 2021 season.
The move comes in the wake of the organization’s most recent incident, which had scores of former workers alleging a poisonous working atmosphere, prompting Snyder to launch an inquiry that was later taken over by the NFL. The league penalized Washington $10 million after an inquiry by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm, and Snyder temporarily handed over day-to-day management of the club to his wife, Tanya, while he concentrated on a new stadium arrangement.
The league chose not to publish a written report of Wilkinson’s conclusions, which provoked outrage. The Committee on Oversight and Reform of the United States House of Representatives will have a roundtable meeting with a few former team employees on Thursday to share their experiences.
The next item on Snyder’s and his front office’s to-do list is to finalize a stadium agreement. The team’s current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and momentum is rising for a deal in Virginia, but locations in Maryland and the District of Columbia are also being considered.