Washington’s NFL team is now known as the Commanders.
The new name unveiled Wednesday comes 18 months after the once-legendary franchise dropped its old moniker after decades of criticism that it was offensive to Native Americans and under new pressure from sponsors. The organization has pledged to avoid Native American imagery in its name change after being called the Washington Football Team for the past two seasons.
Washington joins Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians among major North American professional sports teams, dropping names tied to Native Americans. The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and baseball’s Atlanta Braves said they don’t plan to make a similar change.
As commanders, Washington retains the same burgundy and gold colors that existed for all three Super Bowl championships in the 1980s and early 1990s. This follows the desire of team president Jason Wright and the coach Ron Rivera that the new name has a connection to the US military.
Commanders were chosen from other finalists such as the Red Hogs, Admirals and Presidents. Red Wolves, an initial fan favorite, was dropped earlier in the process due to copyright and trademark hurdles.
The rebranding process had been underway since the summer of 2020, when team officials settled on the temporary Washington Football Team name that extended through the 2021 season.
The change comes amid the organization’s latest controversy: dozens of former employees describing a toxic work culture, prompting owner Dan Snyder to commission an investigation that was picked up by the NFL. After attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm investigated, the league fined Washington $10 million and Snyder temporarily handed over day-to-day operations of the team to his wife, Tanya, while he focused on a new stadium deal.
The league did not release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a move that drew criticism. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform is hosting a roundtable on Thursday with a handful of former team employees to discuss their experiences.
Achieving a stadium deal is next on the agenda for Snyder and his front office. The team’s lease at FedEx Field expires after the 2027 season and momentum is building for a deal in Virginia, though sites in Maryland and the District of Columbia are still under consideration.
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