It’s happening — it’s finally happening. After 24 years with zero Super Bowl wins, zero Super Bowl appearances, zero NFC Championship games and only four NFC East first-place finishes, Commanders owner Daniel Snyder is on track to become former Commanders owner Daniel Snyder. While a winning culture and a return to Washington should be priorities one and two for new owner Josh Harris and other ownership group pals (including Magic Johnson!), establishing a new identity is a close third. For better or worse, the easiest way to do this begins with a new name. A new new name.
In 2013 Snyder told USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” In 2020, he changed the team name, temporarily, to the Washington Football Team. Last year, the WFT became the Washington Commanders.
The serial name changes needed to happen. This isn’t a chance to turn back the clock and readopt a racist name. This is a chance to rid ourselves of Snyder even more.
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The Commanders is a stupid name no one likes. Also, how can there be a team, with 53 different dudes, who are all commanders? The definition of commander is “a person in authority.” The way this football team uses the term just doesn’t make sense.
According to some, the Commanders are not the only team with a stupid name. The Washington Post observed that the Packers have a bad name. [Note: I disagree with this. Green Bay’s football team is named after their first sponsor, the Indian Packing Company, and the team has been named the Packers since its inception in 1919. The Packers are named like most every Little League team — after a sponsoring pizza place or other local business. I think it’s great.] However, the Packers’ winning legacy is not debatable. The Commanders have the smallest possible legacy. The Commanders have one 8-8-1 season. It’s the perfect time to change. A .500 team with only one year of play most likely has not established itself as important to local fans.
New ownership means it’s a good time to go with the name that got the most love when “Redskins” was finally dropped: the Redtails.
When the WFT became the Commanders, the name that garnered the most support was the Redtails (or Red Tails, YMMV). The nickname for the all-Black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II would have been a great way to acknowledge America’s past and educate America’s future. When the change was pitched to the surviving Tuskegee Airmen, thoughts differed. Lt. Col. Harold Brown considered it a good way to honor his comrades’ legacy. (Brown, who later earned a doctorate in education, died in January at the age of 98.) Lt. Col. James Harvey had some reservations. In an email to Time, he wrote, “They don’t win that many games plus a lot of the players have a… Poor attitude.” He’s absolutely right. They didn’t win many games, and both players and fans had a poor attitude, all of which we can attribute to Snyder. But that’s over. Hopefully.
A new name for the Washington NFL team is not nearly as important as a winning Washington NFL team — or bringing the Washington NFL team back to Washington, D.C. proper. (When was the last time you commuted from D.C. to Landover? It’s not fun. It’s not fun during non-rush hour drives on a weekday. It’s a nightmare on game days.) But a name change is the easiest thing to do. Why not start this new era with a fresh slate and a better team name — one that’s already captured the imagination, and pro bono logo design, of the fans?
Also, the team is projected to be garbage again this year — bad, but not bad enough for a top-three draft pick. Give us something to root for, Josh Harris. This is it.