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Washington Commanders: How Did We Get Here?

After two years, the Washington Football Team has finally determined their new name, title, and logo: The Commanders. The new name is a reference to the DMV region’s connection with the armed forces. “Commanders” was chosen after receiving hundreds of suggestions from fans and testing dozens of names in marketing research groups. 

As for the colors and the logos of the new team, not much has changed. They are sticking with the dark red and gold combination, and the logo is still going to be the simple “W” the team has had, but new slanted stripes have been added. 

It is important to note that the new name did not come from the owners wanting to change it, but rather after a necessity after years of backlash. The original name of the team was the “Washington Redskins,” an offensive reference to Native Americans that came with offensive logos and mascots. Following years of pleading by not only the Native American community but allies and fans of the team alike team owner Daniel Snyder finally announced in July 2020 that they would change the name. This decision came at a time amid several protests regarding racial inequality after the death of George Floyd.

Snyder had been hesitant to change for several years. He bought the team in 1999. 7 years later, a petition was filed to remove the legal protection of the team’s name. This petition came after one was filed in 1992 to remove the team’s trademarks and was denied. Protests continued on. Then, in 2013 Snyder was quoted as saying, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.” He continued to hold this sentiment until 2020.

Snyder was eventually forced to change the name out of monetary stress. Sponsors were threatening to remove their name from the stadium. Snyder was also fighting with business partners and a sexual harrasment investigation was occupying the press’ attention into Snyder and the team. Along with this other teams were beginning to change their names, such as the major league baseball team for Cleveland. The decision to change the name, therefore, was a public relations win amid many scandals for the team.

Despite some push for this from fans many Washington fans are still upset. They have expressed a strong dislike of the new name. Hundreds of fans took to Twitter to express their opinion of the change, with tweets ranging from simple memes, or to angry comments indicating a preference back to the Washington Football Team, over the new name. 

Despite the controversy the name change was a necessary message that there is always room for improvement. Many national and local teams still hold offensive titles. However, there is a lot of progress as 2021 AFC champions Kansas City Chiefs, have removed their mascot but have yet to announce any plans to change their name. There is still work to be done in terms of proper representation and a lack of discrimination amongst sports teams and beyond but progress is being made which is hopeful.

Ava Cowles

American '24

Ava is a sophomore at American University and is majoring in Legal Studies. She is passionate about social justice movements, women's rights, reality tv, and all things Taylor Swift. Ava is a contributing writer for HCAU and is excited to spend the next three years in DC.
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