The National Football League’s Washington franchise unveiled its new team name on Wednesday morning: Meet the Washington Commanders. After 18 months of losing the franchise name “Redskins” for racist connotations, the team competed as the Washington Football Team for the last two seasons while preparing for this historic name change.
Washington’s team president Jason Wright and coach Ron Rivera wanted to tie in the military with the new name because of its connection to the nation’s capital. Commander is a term used most often in the military as a naval officer rank, but it also can be used as a generic term.
“As an organization, we are excited to rally and rise together as one under our new identity while paying homage to our local roots and what it means to represent the nation’s capital,” team owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “As we kick-off our 90th season, it is important for our organization and fans to pay tribute to our past traditions, history, legacy and the greats that came before us. We continue to honor and represent the Burgundy & Gold while forging a pathway to a new era in Washington. Today may mark the first day for the Washington Commanders, but we are and always will be Washington.”
“When I first saw the new name, I saw it with the uniforms,” defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, the lone current player at the ceremony, said. “If you’re looking just at the name, well, the name doesn’t mean anything to you. There’s no history there. You’ve never seen anyone play for that team, there’s no uniforms, so obviously you’re not going to like it. But once you come out, you see the atmosphere, you see the new helmets, you see the new uniform, you see the players wearing it, you see the culture we’ve built around it, it’s going to make a lot of people happy.”