Posted on February 3, 2022

With Commanders, the Washington N.F.L. Franchise Moves Past Old Name

Ken Belson, New York Times, February 2, 2022


Nearly two years after dropping its longtime name and logo under pressure, the Washington Football Team announced it would rebrand as the Commanders, in a nod to the region’s links to the armed forces.

The name, announced on NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday, was chosen after the team received more than 40,000 submissions from fans online and through the mail. The team then boiled a list of 1,200 unique names down to 50, and those were tested in market research groups filled with fans, season ticket holders, former season ticket holders, politicians, current and former players and other groups.

Jason Wright, the team’s president, said that the team’s fans come from a diverse set of backgrounds, which made it a challenge to find a name that might appeal to them all.

“Our task was less of a marketing endeavor and more about finding a cross section of unity,” he said. The team’s fans across the spectrum, he said, believed the new name should reflect concepts like resilience, grit, tradition and family.

The team’s primary logo will be a “W” for Washington — not unlike their logo for the past two seasons — but the slanted elements of the stripes bordering the letter “are inspired by military rank insignia.” The franchise now shares a name with President Biden’s dog, Commander, which he introduced in December.


The alternative names included the RedWolves, Admirals, Generals, Armada and Presidents, names floated in social media announcements and statements from Wright, who eliminated some names from contention because they conflicted with trademarks held by other teams, including both variations of the RedWolves name.


In Washington’s case, the team for years faced calls from fans, sponsors and Native American groups to drop the previous franchise name, which had long been considered a racial slur of Native Americans. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, resisted that pressure and 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.