Drum roll, please. The Washington’s NFL team has officially made the decision to change their name. Despite the tradition and the cost of rebranding, they will go through the rebranding process.
As reported by Wall Street Journal on July 13th, 2020 by Andrew Beaton.
The decision was expected after the franchise announced on July 3 that it was conducting a “thorough review” of the name, a process that was catalyzed by new levels of criticism in a country charged by protests against systemic racism. Politicians, activists and even the team’s own sponsors, such as FedEx Corp., called on the team to get rid of the mascot that dates back to 1933, when the team played in Boston.
A new name was not immediately announced.
The moniker survived decades of criticism despite being long seen as derogatory to Native Americans. The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, had vowed never to change it. Until recently, it had continued to receive the public support of commissioner Roger Goodell.
But those years of entrenchment were eclipsed by uproar over the past few weeks. The national demonstrations against race had an acute effect on the NFL particularly, which has been rocked for years over the issue since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustices.
After George Floyd’s killing in late May, the league faced renewed criticism from players who called on the league to act more forcefully than it ever had before in this area. Goodell, who once endorsed a short-lived policy passed by owners that would have required players on the field to stand for the anthem in an effort to quell the protests Kaepernick launched, then released a video in which he encouraged players to protest peacefully and said the NFL had been wrong not to listen to players earlier.
The NFL’s pivot launched a newly animated effort from the league to combat social injustices. But when asked about Washington’s team name, the league had remained silent, even as politicians called for a change, and some players highlighted the issue, too. Rival executives privately said the team needed to get rid of it.
The pressure then reached an apex when sponsors of the NFL and the team joined the mounting dissent. FedEx, the team’s highest-profile sponsor as the namesake of its stadium, asked for a change on July 2. Nike, the NFL’s official apparel partner, removed Washington gear from its website. Other major financial partners of the team, such as PepsiCo and Bank of America, quickly issued similar messages.
Then, on July 3, the team announced it was undertaking a “thorough review” of the name—the first step making clear that it would be abandoned.
While the team has now taken the next step of officially moving on, the announcement did not include a replacement name. A new nickname was not yet ready, a person familiar with the matter said.
The team said Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working on a new name and design that will “enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.”
That new nickname could become a new opportunity for the franchise to connect with a local fan base that has grown increasingly disenchanted by the team. In addition to the criticism the team has fielded over the nickname, Washington hasn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade and the once-proud franchise has been one of the NFL’s weakest for quite a while. It has cycled through coaches and quarterbacks and struggled to find the type of stability that usually produces success in the country’s most popular sport.
The team has remained private about the process for a new name, with many popular suggestions still incorporating the color red or others that would nod to Washington in some form. Although there is no official timetable for the unveiling of that new name, training camps are set to begin at the end of the month—which could serve as an unofficial countdown clock for the announcement.
The quick turnaround will require Washington to jump through a set of logistical hurdles in short order if it wants players to have a new logo on the uniform by the time they take the field.
Those steps include replacing the team’s signage and securing a trademark for the name—a process that could prove more difficult because individuals who have nothing to do with the team have been trying to snap up potential options in anticipation of the change. Applications have already been submitted by others to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for potential names including the Washington Redtails, Washington Red Wolves and the Washington Red-Tailed Hawks.
Washington’s local elected officials were near-uniform in openly opposing the previous name, with some saying that it was the primary obstacle to the team being able to move back into a stadium in Washington, D.C. A key bloc of city council members said they would probably vote in favor of letting the team return to the District of Columbia under a new team name.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate in the U.S. Congress, had also rallied her colleagues to prevent the team from being able to access federal land for a new stadium. Holmes Norton said Monday that with the name change, “there’s no controversy now” on Capitol Hill and it would be up to the city to decide. The team currently plays in Landover, Md., which is not easily accessible by mass transit.
The change was also praised by the sponsors who had pressured the team to make it. “We appreciate the team’s decision to change its name and logo, and we look forward to the outcome of the next step in the process,” a FedEx spokeswoman said.
In addition to the calls from activists and politicians alike, recent research has indicated that the Native American community broadly supports a change. One study in the last year showed 67% of people who strongly identify as Native were offended by the term.
But the reckoning against teams with Native American names—MLB’s Cleveland Indians also have said they’re conducting a review—has also faced backlash from those who say it’s a part of history and a positive tribute. President Trump, in a tweet last week, said the potential changes were to be “politically correct.”
“His tweet made it clear that these teams name their teams out of strength, not weakness,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday. “He says that he believes the Native American community would be very angry at this.”
If the Washington Redskins go through with a name change, what does that do for the other teams that could potentially have Native American names? Does this mean every team will have to change their name?
As reported by Wall Street Journal on July 15th, 2020 by Daniel Henninger.
For now, the Washington Redskins are just the Washington Something or Others, a team with no name. After holding out for years against the inertial forces of political correctness, the Washington football team caved. Hmm, maybe “caved” is inappropriate language now. They gave up.
You knew the Redskins were done as soon as Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream said it was dropping Eskimo Pie so the company could be “part of the solution on racial equality.” When I was growing up, Eskimo Pie always made me think Eskimos were great. But what did I know?
I’ve been fighting the team-name wars for years, most recently over baseball commissioner Rob Manfred’s goofy suppression of the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo.
You have to know when you’re licked. Sorry, wrong word. I mean beaten. Double-sorry; no one should be beaten. I mean defeated. I am defeated. Instead of complaining about the Redskins, it’s time to get ahead of the logo posse and eliminate a lot of really terrible sports-team names. Many of these teams probably think there’s no way their names would offend anyone. They are about to find out how wrong they are.
First we get rid of the low-hanging, already rotting fruit: The Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Browns. White, red, brown and black are unspeakable and unthinkable colors now—for anything. The Chicago Green Sox would be ok. Many pro athletes are weirdly attracted to the color pink, so the Boston Pink Sox would work.
Clevelanders will object that even if most people under 20-years-old think the Cleveland Browns offends the race gods, the Browns are named after team founder Paul Brown, who, as luck would have it, was a white guy. The easiest solution would be to abolish the Browns once and for all. Who would notice?
Sing “hey hey, goodbye” to any team whose name suggests centuries of systemic privilege: the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Kings, Sacramento Kings, Vegas Golden Knights and Cleveland Cavaliers. And hasn’t the moment come for LeBron James to renounce “King James”?
Let’s admit it: Times have changed. The highest value in modern American life is feeling safe. Not “safe” in the sense of not being gunned down tomorrow night. I mean safe the way a college student or street protester feels “unsafe” if bad thoughts are brought to mind.
By this measure, the list of violative professional sports-team names is endless.
The Denver Broncos? Broncos are abused horses forced to buck and then submit by a Dallas Cowboy kicking them with San Antonio Spurs. They’ve all gotta go. Ford Motor just resurrected its Bronco SUV. What terrible timing. Dump it.
Too many teams are still dependent on fossil fuels: the Detroit Pistons, Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Let’s clean up the Steelers by renaming them the Pittsburgh Windmills.
The Philadelphia 76ers? Surely, they’re already on their way to being rehabilitated as the Philadelphia 1619s.
The Miami Marlins shamelessly expropriated the name of a vulnerable species. They should be renamed the Miami Minnows.
Anyone who thinks names like this honor endangered species doesn’t understand why statues of George Washington have to go. The Minnesota Timberwolves should leave the wolves alone and call themselves the Minnesota Lutefisk.
Names associated with religious belief are also a problem. The New Jersey Devils imply God exists. Ditto the New Orleans Saints, and the Boston Celtics evoke Irish Catholics. Get rid of them.
The Portland Trail Blazers celebrate genocidal pioneers. The San Francisco 49ers are named after 19th-century California gold-diggers who raped the environment.
The Houston Rockets have an impossibly male-sounding name and should compensate by becoming the Houston Rockettes.
The Colorado Avalanche evokes death. The New York Rangers sound like the police. The Texas Rangers are the police. What were the San Diego Padres thinking?
The Chicago Bulls are another team named after an abused animal, not to mention the consumption of animal protein. A new name that comes to mind is the Chicago Jordans in honor of Michael, but that will remind some people of the Jordan River and the plight of the Palestinians.
Don’t get me started on teams who think they’re safe by hiding behind the names of birds or animals. The Toronto Blue Jays are named after a nasty bird. The Atlanta Hawks kill rabbits. Just the words “Miami Dolphins” make me want to cry.
The Miami Heat may be the future, invoking the problem of climate change, and we can’t be reminded of that too often. The about-to-die Cleveland Indians could become the Cleveland Cold.
The team name of the Utah Jazz never made sense to me, but it does suggest that rebranding teams as musical instruments might be safe. The New England Patriots are problematic in so many ways. Patriotism? Are you kidding me? I look forward to them coming back as the New England Trombones.
For now, Washington sits with a nameless football team. How about calling the team in the nation’s capital the Washington Nothings? That sounds like something we could all agree on.
As this football teams goes through these changes, there will be more updates that take place.
Additional Brand Naming Resources
Brand Naming for Political Correctness (1 of 2) (Ideas BIG)