Nearly a century after the team’s inception and 18 months after dropping ‘Redskins’ amid pressure from Native American groups, the Washington Football Team is finally ready to settle on a permanent name.
The club told NBC’s Today that it will announce the new moniker live during the national morning show’s February 2 broadcast.
In September, WFT co-CEO Tanya Snyder, the wife of owner Dan Snyder, confirmed to ESPN that the final eight candidates are Armada, Presidents, Brigade, Redhawks, Commanders, RedWolves, Defenders and Football Team.
But, as team president Jason Wright revealed Tuesday, Redwolves and Wolves are not options due to trademark issues.
‘One of the most awesome and powerful aspects of this process has been getting to hear and understand your preferences directly, and we know that many of you loved one or both of these names,’ Wright said in a statement.
‘We didn’t want to go down a route that could be dotted with legal hurdles,’ Wright continued. ‘The prospect of years of litigation wasn’t something we wanted you, our fans, to have to bear as you begin to embrace a new brand.’
Eighteen months after replacing ‘Redskins’ amid pressure from Native American groups, the Washington Football Team will announce its new name on February 2
Redwolves are among the suggestions put forth by fans of the former Washington Redskins, but team president Jason Wright said trademark issues have disqualified that option
Protestors rally outside U.S. Bank Stadium before the game between the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings on October 24, 2019 in Minneapolis
Leah Muskin-Pierret of Washington DC works on signs as part of a Native Americans protest against the Redskins team name before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals in Landover MD on December 17, 2017
The name change serves as a welcome distraction from the team’s ongoing 6-10 campaign and recent allegations in the Washington Post that owner Dan Snyder sought to prevent former employees from speaking to NFL investigators who were probing allegations of sexual harassment at the club.
The NFL investigation resulted in a $10 million fine for the WFT and Snyder temporarily stepped down from day-to-day control of the franchise, but details about the league findings have never been revealed despite demands from accusers, attorneys, and fans.
The club is now in its second season as The Washington Football Team (WFT) after the 2020 decision to lose ‘Redskins’ amid a national crackdown on racism in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of African-American man George Floyd.
The name change serves as a welcome departure from the team’s ongoing 6-10 campaign and recent allegations in the Washington Post that owner Dan Snyder (pictured) sought to prevent former employees from speaking to NFL investigators who were probing allegations of sexual harassment at the club
A hand-painted concrete barrier stands in the parking lot of FedEx Field in July of 2020
A Washington Redskins fan wears a Native American headdress at a game along with a pig mask, which is a nod to the team’s former offensive line, dubbed ‘The Hogs’
The club originated in Boston, where then-owner George P. Marshall had wanted to call them the ‘Braves’ but opted for his second choice due to the existence of the city’s National League baseball team, which has since moved on to Milwaukee and Atlanta.
The term’s origin is disputed, according to a 2016 Washington Post article, that claims it was first used as a pejorative as early as 1863 in Minnesota.
‘The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory,’ read an announcement in The Winona Daily Republican. ‘This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.’
Washington running back Jaret Patterson runs against Eagles on Sunday
By 1898, Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary began defining ‘redskin’ with the phrase ‘often contemptuous.’
A 2016 Washington Post poll found that 90 percent of the 504 Native American respondents were ‘not bothered’ by the team name. Snyder ultimately wrote an open letter, defending his decision to keep the moniker by citing the study.
However, that survey and other similar studies have been slammed by journalists and social scientists as being unreliable.
‘The reporters and editors behind this story must have known that it would be used as justification for the continued use of these harmful, racist mascots,’ read a statement from the Native American Journalists Association. ‘They were either willfully malicious or dangerously naïve in the process and reporting used in this story, and neither is acceptable from any journalistic institution.’
In March of 2020, UC Berkeley revealed a study that found that more than half of its 1,000 Native American respondents were offended by the team name.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that a trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes on free speech rights. Prior to that, the United States Patent and Trademark office had tried to revoke the Redskins’ trademark because it was a racial epithet.
The team has shared a look at its 18-month rebranding process on its ‘Making the Brand’ video series on the team website. The franchise said it has received nearly 40,000 fan submissions from 61 countries and all 50 states of potential new names for the team, from Legends to Wolfpack to Redwolves.