The Washington Commanders will take the football field near the nation’s capital this fall, team officials said Wednesday, ending an 18-month name search.
The team will keep its traditional burgundy and gold uniforms and hope this new title can boost interest in the once-proud franchise that has posted just five winning seasons this century.
The three-time Super Bowl-winning club had long been criticized for using an offensive name, which mocked Native Americans, before finally dropping it in July 2020.
From that point on and until Wednesday’s announcement on NBC’s “TODAY” show, the squad had been known simply as the Washington Football Team.
Team president Jason Wright said “it’s a name that has the weight and meaning befitting a 90-year-old franchise.”
“It’s something that broadly resonated with our fans and it’s something that we believe embodies the values of service and leadership that really define the DMV and this community. It’s also something importantly that we can own and grow for the next 90 years,” he said on “TODAY.”
Wright said the Commanders will work with fans on the fight song and creating a new mascot.
Team captain Jonathan Allen said putting on the new uniform for the first time felt right.
“I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I feel like it really embodied not only what the players represent but also what this community and the DMV represents,” Allen said. “We’re gonna support it and we’re gonna go forward with it. We’re excited about the future.”
Other names that had been under final consideration included the Armada, Presidents, Brigade, Red Hogs, Red Wolves, or Defenders before Commanders was announced on Wednesday.
The team said in choosing a new name, officials sought out leaders across diverse Native American and indigenous communities for feedback.
Wednesday’s planned reveal was not without hiccups. Former quarterback Joe Theismann, 72, on Monday appeared to let the new name slip during an interview on CBS Sports Radio before walking back his comments. NBC Washington on Tuesday flew over FedEx Field, the football team’s home in Maryland, and spotted new signage inside the stadium bearing the “Commanders” name.
Another clue regarding the new name came from an eagle-eyed Twitter user who noticed the Commanders.com domain was transferred to MarkMonitor, a company the NFL uses to handle most of its domain names for teams, Sporting News reported. The domain transfer was suspected to be a sign the team was formally adopting “Commanders” as its new title.
Still, the announcement offered the franchise a rare chance to focus conversation on something other than losing football and scandal.
The NFL in July fined the team $10 million due to the club’s “highly unprofessional” workplace that exposed employees, particularly women, to intimidation and sexual harassment.
The league pushed team owner Dan Snyder to a lesser role within the organization.
Acknowledging the scandal, Wright said the new name is coinciding with a time of change within the organization.
“It’s from that position of strength now that this diverse and empowered leadership team is united to bring a championship back to the burgundy and gold under the banner of the Washington Commanders,” he said.