Feb 2, 2022 - Sports

Washington Football Team changes name to Washington Commanders

A Washington Commanders sign is shown as they unveil their NFL football team's new identity.

Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The Washington Football Team said on Wednesday that it will change its name to the Washington Commanders.

The big picture: The announcement ends an 18-month wait for the NFL franchise's new name and follows years of complaints from fans, politicians and corporate sponsors that its previous moniker was a racial slur.

  • The team, which will keep its traditional burgundy and gold colors, said the new name pays "homage to our local roots and what it means to represent the nation's capital."
  • But the announcement didn't come as a surprise after details of the new name emerged in recent days.
  • Joe Theismann, a former star quarterback, indicated in a radio interview earlier this week that the team's new name would be the Commanders. And a helicopter flown by D.C.'s NBC affiliate spotted a banner with the new name inside the team's stadium.

Flashback: Owner Dan Snyder had previously told USA Today, "We'll never change the team name. It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps."

  • But some of the team's biggest investors — Nike, PepsiCo and FedEx (which also owns the naming rights to the team's stadium) — said they would not work with the team unless the name was changed.
  • Washington Football Team president Jason Wright told "Axios on HBO" last year that "the right thing is to move forward into a new name, brand and identity that captures the best parts of our history and allows us to innovate and move into the future."

Details: The Washington team received more than 40,000 name suggestions from fans as part of the process.

  • CEO Tanya Snyder told ESPN last year that the unofficial finalists were Armada, Brigade, Commanders, Defenders, Presidents, Red Hogs and Red Wolves. The team's interim name, Washington Football Team, was also a finalist.
  • Wolves were later removed from consideration due to trademark reasons, Wright said in a letter to fans last month.
  • "We are very excited about our final selection, which aligns with our values, carries forth our rich history, represents the region and, most importantly, is inspired and informed by you, our fans," he added.

Of note: Washington is the latest sports team to either drop or change a previously controversial name.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details on the team's announcement.

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