New Name, Same Problems

Eva Smith, Staff Reporter

After two seasons of deliberating between countless names, the Washington Football Team has finally decided on a new title: the Washington Commanders. While the placeholder name was not a popular choice, the new, official moniker doesn’t seem to be a fan favorite either. 

Formerly known as the Washington Redskins, the team faced criticism for many years before actually making the effort to switch names. Team owner Dan Snyder resisted the change and only agreed to do it in 2020 due to management and external pressure. For example, FedEx, the team’s lead sponsor, threatened to pull out of their deal with the franchise if they did not change the name. 

The way Snyder and the team went about picking a new name was long overdue. Indigenous people and other activists had been pushing for a mascot change for years and were ignored, so the criticism that the organization has faced is justified. 

The Commander’s name has been met with mixed reviews, even after the team conducted 40,000 fan surveys and focus groups to find the best name. The other finalists that the team was considering included the Red Wolves, Red Hogs, Defenders, Presidents and Armada. All of the options aimed to have a connection with either Washington DC or the team colors, burgundy and gold. 

President of the organization, Jason Wright, believes that the new name represents values of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) itself. The Commanders tried to find a name that would keep the fans feeling connected to the team and the city, which was a hard task to complete. 

Even after the rebrand, it is still the same team. The appearance has changed, but that does not mean there are not the same problems. The players, management and coaches are all the same which helps fans stay connected to the football team, but it also means the problems that were present before the name change are still there. The Commanders struggles with branding was caused by racist stereotypes and management who were too stubborn to change it. This mentality does not automatically go away after a name change. 

From the Redskins to the Football Team to the Commanders, the franchise has experienced many changes, but this does not mean that the criticism and issues that have lingered for years are going to disappear immediately.