The debate over the Washington Redskins nickname finally came to an end on July 23, 2020, after at least a quarter century’s worth of spirited debate over whether the name is offensive to Native Americans.
While team owner Daniel Snyder said that name would never change, the political climate in the spring and summer of 2020 and protests over racial injustice across the United States brought this issue to ahead. The difference this time is that in addition to protests by citizens, corporate America got involved. FedEx, Nike, and Pepsi all called for a name change, and retailers like Amazon said they would no longer sell Redskins merchandise.
That led to a change, but we still don’t know what the team will be known as in the long-term. For 2020, the team will be known as the Washington Football Team. All signage related to the Redskins name will be eliminated from FedEx Field, the team’s home stadium, in time for the first regular-season game this fall. A full rebrand will likely debut for the 2021 season, but that has not been confirmed by the franchise.
The team’s burgundy and gold color scheme remains, but the Indian head logo is no more; it has been replaced by gold, winged W with a burgundy background. The team’s wordmark has “Washington” in all capital letters, and underneath—in the smaller text—the words “Football Team” and “Est. 1932.”
The other major change will be on the helmets, as the Indian head logo will be replaced by each player’s number, a la the Alabama Crimson Tide. The number will be in gold with the traditional burgundy-colored helmet. Also, the wordmark above the numbers on the front of the jersey will be changed from “Redskins” to “Washington.”
Head coach Ron Rivera had said that he hoped a new name would be announced by the start of this year’s training camp, but that did not occur. In fact, the team is asking its fans for input on the website washingtonjourney.com as it seeks a permanent name and identity. Among fan sites, the names Warriors, Red Hawks, and Red Wolves have proven popular.
After decades of mismanagement under Snyder, there is renewed hope for a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game in 15 years, as former longtime Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera—who is well-respected in NFL circles and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance—is now leading the team. The franchise is hoping that allowing the rabid fanbase (which has stopped going to games in recent years, as the average home attendance for Redskins games has steadily declined from a peak of 88,604 in 2009 to 65,488 in 2019) to be a part of the future name of the club while engineering a culture change from within under Rivera will turn around the fortunes of one of the most historic franchises in the NFL.
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