ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Football Team will announce its new name ahead of the Super Bowl, nearly 19 months after dropping its old one. But team president Jason Wright said it won’t be one that became an early favorite on social media.
The team announced Tuesday that it will reveal its new name on Feb. 2, 11 days before the Super Bowl. During a podcast in September with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, WFT co-CEO Tanya Snyder confirmed that the final eight candidates were Armada, Presidents, Brigade, Redhawks, Commanders, RedWolves, Defenders and Football Team.
Those names had previously been revealed, but some team personnel said that wasn’t an official list. On the podcast, Schefter asked Snyder whether those were the candidates and she replied, “Yes.” But Wright wrote on the team website on Tuesday that although Wolves — and RedWolves by association — were fan favorites, they would not work because of trademarks held by other teams.
“We didn’t want to go down a route that could be dotted with legal hurdles,” Wright said in his President’s Brief. “The prospect of years of litigation wasn’t something we wanted you, our fans, to have to bear as you begin to embrace a new brand.”
Washington went with Football Team for the past two seasons after announcing on July 13, 2020, that it would drop the mascot name it had used since the team formed in 1932. The franchise began play in Washington five years later and had fought off public pressure in the past to change the name. After protests and multiple discussions in the spring of 2020 combined with pressure from sponsors, the team looked into rebranding. Wright was hired in August 2020 to help spearhead the name change. The team will still have burgundy and gold as its color scheme.
“We’re going forward, and that’s what the rebrand is all about,” senior adviser Doug Williams, who has been with the team as a player and executive for parts of 11 years, said during an episode of “Making the Brand” on the team website. “I can’t wait to see the team on the field and the fans in the stands with the rebrand on. It’s gonna be nice.
“It’s a clean uniform. … I believe in clean uniforms. You just got the number and the uniform stripes around the shoulders, and that’s it. That’s going to be a good-looking uniform.”
Washington general manager Martin Mayhew, who also played for the team, said of the uniforms during the show, “They’re really clean, really crisp. They look cool, so I think the fans are really going to be excited about how the new uniforms look.”
When the initial news was announced about dropping the old name, Washington coach Ron Rivera said the team wanted to include the military in the new one. After a process that included focus groups, it’s uncertain whether that’s still the desire.
“While we understood it would be a nearly impossible task to select a name that all of our fans would identify with as their first pick,” Wright wrote, “we are very excited about our final selection, which aligns with our values, carries forth our rich history, represents the region and, most importantly, is inspired and informed by you, our fans.”
Washington was the first team in the four major North American professional sports leagues to drop Native American imagery after national discussions about race. Major League Baseball’s Cleveland franchise followed suit and adopted its new nickname, Guardians.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.