BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
On March 30, 2022, I decided to do a very interesting podcast about a team rebranding itself due to the Social Climate in todays times.
The individuals that I included on a Podcast that I titled, “The Washington What” were JB Ellis, Steve Balestrieri, Rick Curti and Mel Farr Jr.
If you’re an NFL Fan, when individuals thought of Washington football, we knew this team as the Washington Redskins.
But let’s take a history lesson as we devoted an Episode of “Inside The Pigskin” to the history of a franchise that was initially based in Boston, MA and played at historic Fenway Park.
This franchise started out as the Boston Braves in 1932.
It changed its name to the Boston Redskins and remained that way from 1933-1936.
It relocated to our Nations Capital and became the Washington Redskins from 1937-2019. They played at RFK Stadium for many years and are currently playing at FedExField.
They did cave in to pressure as the name was changed to the Washington Football team from 2020-2021, and finally arrived at the Commanders in 2022.
Due to pressure from the NFL and team sponsors, the Reskins brand was retired in the wake of George Floyd Protests and Owner Daniel Snyder was starting to feel it in the pocketbook.
Snyder is no stranger to ruffling feathers as he charged his fans to attend practices at training camp.
For many years, Snyder was adamant about changing the Redskins name because it lasted decades without it becoming an issue.
He didn’t want to mess with the teams tradition which included five league championships, three Super Bowl titles along with five conference championships.
The team has 15 Division Championships along with 25 Playoff Appearances.
The most stimulating part of the show was talking about the different names.
We all had different ideas.
Here are some of the names that were discussed. The Senators, Federals, Braves, Warriors, Redhawks, Skins, Renegades, Pigskins, Hogs, Armada, Brigade, Defenders, Presidents, Red Tails, Rough Riders, Owls, Alliance, Revolution, Red Wolves, Sentinels and the Generals.
When the list was paired down to eight, the names that made the cut were: Armada, Brigade, Commanders, Defenders, Presidents, Red Wolves, Red Hawks and the Washington Football Team.
Having dealt with the complicated nature of trademarking as I have since I did it with the “Motor City Mad Mouth” it’s no easy task. I know that factored into this process.
I was intrigued by names that had the word “Red” in them to uphold to the tradition of Redskins. Over the years, the word “Hogs” was attributed to attributed to the team’s offensive line in the 1980’s.
If you look into American History and the Military, it’s understandable why Revolution, Presidents, Federals, Commanders, Alliance, Brigade, Presidents, Armada were considered.
There were other Indian names like the Warriors and Braves that could have come into play but the last thing this team wanted to do was to revisit this down the road since they’re trying to get away from it now.
What I didn’t want was the Washington Generals since they were the whipping boys of the Harlem Globetrotters.
I was intrigued by the Washington Sentinels because that was the name of the team in the movie called “The Replacements” and was based loosely based on the 1987 NFL Strike, specifically the Washington Redskins, who won all three of their replacement games without any of their regular players and went on to win Super Bowl XXII.
But my top choice was bringing back the Washington Senators. This is a household name in the DC Area as it was associated with two MLB Teams that subsequently moved on two occasions to Minnesota and Texas.
I love history and this would have been the right time to bring it back but on the gridiron.
Once upon a time, the Dallas Texans played and eventually moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs. The Houston Texans brought the name back.
When we evaluated each of these names, it was easy to look at the pros and cons of each one and why did it take two years to get to the Commanders when perhaps, this could have been done much sooner if they went the simple and conservative route.
As I’ve thought about the Washington Commanders, I have no problem with the name because a commander is designed to lead. It’s the safest and most conservative name out there. Also, the team didn’t change it’s Burgundy, Gold and White Color Scheme.
For whatever it’s worth, the franchise was valued by Forbes in 2021 at roughly US $4.2 Billion, making it the league’s fifth-most valuable team.
The team has played more than 1,000 games and is one of only five in the NFL with more than 600 total wins.
In the end, regardless of what you call it, the team will continue to sell jerseys and all the name change did was get the critics of their back and not lose sponsorship revenue.
If you’ve ever named anything in the past, whether it’s a child or a pet, there are always reasons why and why you don’t make the decision. The question is that when the decision is made, you have to live with it.
I actually enjoyed the Washington Redskins and this was the first franchise with an official marching band and a fight song, “Hail to the Redskins” but I do understand that making the change was necessary.
The name game in sports is becoming more interesting these days as many teams have nicknames that don’t have an “S” on the back end and are not plural.
But that’s for another day.
In the meantime, it was neat doing a Podcast on “The Washington What?” It’s great to get various opinions and find out what someone is thinking.
Check out the Episode in this story. I know that when you see the entire show, it will get your wheels turning as it did mine when we put together the idea, the video and the story.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.
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