Native American leaders lobbied for almost 30 years to convince the NFL team in Washington, D.C., to retire its racist moniker. It took a tragedy — the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide protests and forced many institutions to reckon with racist legacies — for investors to finally demand a change. Last July, the franchise scrapped the slur that'd been its name since the 1930s and went with a bland-yet-inoffensive temporary alias: the Washington Football Team, or WTF — I mean WFT — for short until settling on a permanent replacement.
They've had the stopgap name for nearly a year now, so WFT team president Jason Wright issued an update on rebranding efforts: nothing has really changed. They're sticking with Washington Football Team for now, but they've also narrowed down the future identity "to a short list of final names."
One epithet that won't make the cut? "Warriors," which emerged among some WFT fans as a compromise of sorts. "One might look at this name as a natural, and even harmless transition considering that it does not necessarily or specifically carry a negative connotation," Wright wrote. However, "feedback from across communities we engaged clearly revealed deep-seated discomfort around 'Warriors,' with the clear acknowledgment that it too closely aligns with Native American themes." He noted that the WFT rebranding exposed the team to the damage wrought by their previous imagery, including "research revealing the psychological effects of Native American team names on American Indian and Alaska Native youth."
Insiders expect WFT to adopt a new name sometime in 2022. But honestly, after nearly 100 years of using a slur, maybe "Washington Football Team" is the permanent title the club deserves. As recently as 2013, disgraced WFT owner Daniel Snyder told USA Today, "We'll never change the name... it's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps." Then, after sponsors like FedEx and Nike forced him to renege on that promise last summer, the Washington Post discovered Snyder was running a shockingly predatory and misogynistic franchise. He still hasn't formally stepped down; his wife, Tanya, is supposedly running things in his stead.
Anyhow, I don't trust these people to choose an inclusive new team moniker. It took them a whole year to announce that "Warrior" was off the table. That's why WFT ought to remain WFT for the foreseeable future. It's a fitting mea culpa and the perfect sports name for the meme era. Snyder and his cronies previously objectified the team's cheerleaders, but imagine if they dressed like lobbyists?! It'd be splendidly camp.