Hail to the Commanders: Whitman reacts to Washington football’s new nickname

By Gibson Hirt

After 87 years as the “Washington Redskins” and a year and a half as the “Washington Football Team,” a new chapter for the Washington football franchise has officially begun.

Goodbye Washington Redskins, and goodbye Washington Football Team. All hail the Washington Commanders.

In July of 2020, after a thorough review of the longstanding nickname, owner Dan Synder announced that the team would retire the nickname “Redskins.” For the next 18 months, the “Washington Football Team” was the newest member of the NFC East. On February 2, after almost two years of debating, leaking and questioning, the “Commanders” is the Washington, D.C. football franchise’s third nickname in less than three years. 

Within hours of the official announcement — and slightly longer after the leak from a helicopter camera the night prior —  fan reactions were all over the place. Many thought the new nickname represented the area well, including myself. While I can’t deny that I liked some of the other options a bit more than Commanders, including “Redwolves” and “Red Hogs,” I don’t think the name deserves as much backlash as it has received. Being the nation’s capital, DC has numerous ties to the military and national defense, which the “Commanders” represents. After the understandable dilemma over the nickname “Redskins”, it makes sense that leadership didn’t want to choose a name that could create more controversy. Commanders was a safe but smart option, and I think the choice will grow on fans during the offseason.

Many other students, however, weren’t as keen on the announcement as I was. 

Sophomore Andrew Fou said he thinks that “Commanders” was a boring choice given the lengthy period that fans have been waiting for a new nickname. The franchise changed from the “Redskins” to the temporary “Washington Football Team” in July of 2020, meaning that it has been about 18 months of uncertainty.

“With how long it took them to make a decision, I was expecting a much more interesting choice,” Fou said. “I know there were trademark issues, but I really liked the idea of being the Washington Redwolves. ”

Freshman Derrick Goodman said he would have preferred that the name remain the “Washington Football Team” although he didn’t necessarily think that Commanders was a poor choice. 

Like Fou and Goodman, junior Ethan Eisenstein said he felt that the brand change took a bit too long. However, he also believed that fans would get used to the change over time, he said.

Alongside the new nickname, the Commanders also revealed their new uniforms and logos. Three uniforms and three logo concepts were released, one home, one away and one alternate set. A similar red design for the home uniform, but the team really ventured into uncharted territory with the away and alternate uniforms. The white away jersey and black alternate jersey feature a snakeskin design on the numbers and shoulder pads, a pattern yet to be seen on an NFL uniform.

Many fans have expressed excitement regarding the new attire. In my view, the jerseys and logos were a huge step in the right direction for the Commanders’ future. Even if football enthusiasts don’t love the name at first, clean and crisp uniforms go miles toward fan engagement. 

The new uniforms are a massive upgrade from previous Washington gear, Eisenstein said. 

“The alternate set is definitely the coolest because of how different it is from the old uniforms,” Eisenstein said.

These changes are just the start of what will hopefully be a turning point for the “newest” NFL team. First up on the to-do list for the Commanders: get back to winning football games. Some fans will continue to whine about the change, but in reality, none of these changes matter if the Commanders cannot win games. As Chad Johnson said, “Washington Commanders…… the name doesn’t matter, just get Terry McLaurin the ball.”

“I couldn’t care less about the name, uniforms or logos,” senior Zach Yaqub said. “If we are winning games, that’s all that matters to me.”