Right as the NHL unveiled an objectively cool new logo, name, and uniform for the Seattle Kraken, Dan Snyder’s disgraced NFL franchise announced a strange temporary team name. Washington will effectively be known as the “Washington Football Team,” taking a cue from sportswriters and fans who were already uncomfortable with using a slur. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that this isn’t a final renaming and rebranding of the team, and will serve as a stopgap before the organization settles on an official new name.
The franchise plans to remove its old name on all physical and digital spaces in the next 50 days, ahead of its week one game against the Eagles. It’s going to keep using the same burgundy and gold color scheme — presumably for ease of future merchandising changes — but the uniforms will be slightly modified. Instead of the old logo placed on the side of each player’s helmet, the team will place their number in gold. I can charitably say they don’t look any better or worse than our middle school football team’s uniforms in 2006.
At least tentatively, it appears they might not be rolling out a new team name for the foreseeable future. Schefter writes that while the Washington Football Team uses these temporary uniforms and helmets this year, the franchise will be “seeking the feedback of players, alumni, fans, sponsors and the community for the new team name it will use in the future.” Chalk it up to laziness or resistance to name the team anything but a racist term, but the hold-up is much more likely related to unresolved trademark issues. The team’s releasing official “Washington Football Team” merchandise later this week, perhaps as further indication that a change won’t be coming anytime soon.
Snyder has long been opposed to changing the team name, confidently telling USA Today in 2013 that “We'll never change the name...it's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps." Despite decades of pushback from fans and activists, something finally broke this year, after worldwide protests against racist policing and systemic racism. A letter signed by 87 investors and shareholders of team affiliates finally put the pressure on, leading to FedEx — which has naming rights for the Washington stadium — eventually asking for a name change.
After days of reporters ghoulishly hyping rumors of a franchise-altering story with eye emojis, the Washington Post published a report last week alleging widespread sexual harassment within the franchise. Fifteen former female employees and two journalists accused multiple staffers of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and a toxic workplace culture that allowed it to run rampant. A half-hearted cosmetic change to the team’s name and uniforms won’t be nearly enough to reform the rot that’s been present in that team and league for decades.