The Washington Football Team will now be known as the Commanders.
The Feb. 2 announcement comes 18 months after a renewed effort to make the team end its use of the name “Redskins.”
The team originally adopted the name in 1932. Critics of the name said it was racist and opposed the team’s use of Native American imagery in their promotional materials.
During the summer of 2020, several of the team’s major sponsors publicly called for the name to be dropped.
FedEx, which was holds the name rights for the team’s stadium, was the first to ask the franchise to change its name. Fred Smith, the company’s chief executive office, is a part of the team’s ownership group.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement.
Pepsi Co, Bank of America, and Nike all followed suit.
Eventually, the team’s leadership announced on July 3, 2020 that they would formally review the name and begin considering alternative options.
The team has been known as the Washington Football Team for the last two seasons.
“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,” said the team’s owner Dan Snyder in the announcement. “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.”
As the Washington Commanders, the team will keep their colors – burgundy and gold.
The new name honors a request from the team president Jason Wright and coach Ron River, who asked for the new name to have a connection to the United States military.
Other possibilities included Red Hogs, Admirals, and Presidents.
“I think Commanders rings a bell. It gives a ring of control,” said Doug Williams, a former quarterback for the team who currently serves as a senior advisor. “The bottom line is winning. If we win, these fans around here are passionate about their football. They loved the Redskins but if we win they are going to love the Commanders.”
The name was reportedly leaked on several occasions to the media. An unblurred image of the new logo was even broadcasted on NBC Washington in late January.
Other professional sports teams have reviewed and revised their names to avoid using Native American imagery or monikers deemed to be racist.
The Cleveland Indians announced in July of 2021 that they would now be known as the Guardians. The team had already removed images of the Chief Wahoo logo from its uniforms years before the name change.
In addition to the new name, the Washington Commanders will begin consideration for possible new home stadium options. The team’s lease on FedEx stadium ends in 2027.