D.C. NFL Team Comes Up with Interim Name

The Washington football team has come up with a new name to replace the the old one, at least temporarily: The Washington Football Team, or just "Washington" for short.  

It is what many have been calling the team already rather than use the old name.

The move gives the team and owner Dan Snyder more time to figure out what the new name and branding will be. 

While the web site is still redskins.com, the link leads to a new Washington Football Team branded site. 

Saying it was for "updated brand clarity and consistency purposes," the team announced that pending adoption of a new name and logo, the "redskins" name will be officially retired before the start of the new season, which is currently a home opener against Philadelphia Sept. 13, and the team will encourage fans and the media to use "Washington Football Team" starting immediately.

That will give the team more time to undertake an "in-depth" branding process, the team said. 

In the meantime Washington Football Team gear will be available in the NFL Shop. 

Snyder had been under extreme pressure, including from advertisers and sponsors, to change the name, something he has strongly resisted.

A "Washington Football Team' jersey

A "Washington Football Team' jersey

In the wake of the George Floyd killing and a national referendum on race and discrimination, the team launched a review of the name July 3, and announced July 13 a change was coming.  

Broadcasters in the U.S. have pretty much left whether to use the team name up to their analysts and sports anchors, though the hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, had decided not to use the name on its editorial page, which has urged a name change, while continuing to use it on the news pages. 

"This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization's sponsors, the National Football League and the local community," said Snyder back when the review was launched.  

That history also includes being the last team in the league to integrate. The statue of its former owner George Preston Marshall, who resisted integration until the early 1960s, was removed from in front of the team's former home, RFK Stadium in Washington, earlier this month.  

Back in 2014, the FCC's Media Bureau rejected a petition to deny the renewal of Snyder's Washington radio station, WWXX-FM, over its use of the term "Redskins" on-air to refer to the team. Challenges to several TV station licenses were also lodged on the grounds the term was profane, but the FCC did not see it that way.  

Numerous members of Congress have also called for the name change, including threatening to eliminate the NFL's tax-exempt status because the league hasn't taken action to get the team owner to change its name. 

Snyder has said the name honors a proud heritage and points to some Native Americans who do not oppose it. For example, back in 2016, the Washington Postreleased a poll of more than 500 Native Americans that found that nine in 10 did not find the team name offensive. But a February 2020 UC Berkley study--conducted even before Floyd's death and the protests--found that half of 1,000 Native Americans polled were offended by the name. 

But a columnist for British newspaper The Independent, who argued several years ago that the BBC should not use the name when reporting about a game between the team and the Cincinnati Bengals played in London, cited Oneida leader Ray Halbritter, who in turn pointed to a newspaper clipping from 1863 referring to "red-skins" as the bloody scalps for which a $200 bounty was being paid.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.