Back in January, I put together a proposal for a new name for the Redskins. Seven months later, the team has come under fire, receiving intense pressure from sponsors and business partners to change the name. The team has gone by the ‘Redskins’ since 1937, meaning one of the league’s oldest franchises/brands will likely be gone by the 2020 or 2021 season.
With the speculation surrounding the name change, fans and media personnel have floated out suggestions for what the new moniker should be. My suggestion, ‘Red Storm,’ has not had any traction in public circles. That’s fine. Of the ones I have seen most, there are several strong options that I would be fine with. There are also a lot that are terrible.
Frankly, any option will take awhile to get used to. No matter what name they choose, a large number of people will be unhappy, and that’s not even counting those rejecting the name change as a whole. Since the decision ultimately rests with owner Dan Snyder, I anticipate one of the worst options will be chosen.
Some of the name choices would retain a connection with Native Americans, but use a more positive word, while others take a completely different direction. Here are my opinions on some of the most popular suggestions:
This has been a popular suggestion for a long time; the team could retain its association with Native Americans in a more positive light, but they could also use it in a more general sense, applying it to the military or otherwise.
It’s a good enough name. There’s already the Golden State Warriors in the NBA, so there’s evidence that the name wouldn’t be problematic for a major American sports team. It’s also one of the few names being considered that wouldn’t sound like a name for an XFL team.
At the same time, it’s not super creative. The team has a chance to really make an upgrade, and settling for Warriors would prevent a new name coming to light. It’s the simplest choice, and very well could become the new name, but there are definitely more creative options.
The ‘Redtails’ pays homage to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, a squadron of African-American and Caribbean-born fighter pilots and bombers. The name refers to the red tails of their jets. Tuskegee is in Alabama, so there is not really any regional significance, but with Washington being the nation’s capital (with the Department of Defense) and coach Ron Rivera wanting to honor the U.S. military, it still fits.
It would also allow the team to maintain the ‘HTTR’ slogan, something that wouldn’t work with the ‘Warriors.’ The league already has the New York Jets, so a plane-related team isn’t uncalled for, but that may not be the best franchise to model after, given their track record. Although I guess the Redskins aren’t much different.
It’s unique, it allows the team to keep its beloved burgundy and gold color scheme, and it honors an important group of men in American history instead of dehumanizing a group of people that the country displaced. This is definitely one of the stronger ones.
Another military-related name, except it’s much more, uh, general (pun not intended). The name ‘Washington Generals’ has already been used for decades by the opponents (and victims of defeat) of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. This name would really be leaning into the Redskins’ performance over the past 20 years.
The team really doesn’t need to provide the league any new material for ridicule; the product on the field is enough. In a vacuum, the ‘Generals’ would be a fine name to change to, but given the context, the team should probably look elsewhere.
These two are fairly similar, and are certainly interesting. ‘Pigskins’ is a nickname for a football, despite modern footballs being made out of leather, and it would be a way for the team to keep its shorthand nickname of the ‘Skins.’ The ‘Pig-‘ part also relates to one of the most famous units in franchise history. The Hogs were the offensive line group that anchored the franchise to all three Super Bowl victories from 1982-1991.
Select fans have worn pig noses to games since the 1980s, so that would likely continue in higher numbers if the team went in this direction. Still, I think the team should stay away from this option. Having the sport’s ball as a team name is pretty weak in my opinion, and the Hogs should stand alone as the great offensive line. A few losing seasons as the ‘Washington Hogs,’ and pretty soon the legacy of the original Hogs will be tainted by the association with the new team name.
These are all similar to the ‘Generals,’ but none are nearly as good. The ‘Senators’ would be fine, but we’ve seen them come and go twice in baseball. It’s just not fresh, and the team could do better.
However I would take ‘Senators’ over ‘Americans’ and ‘Presidents.’ The name ‘Americans’ would likely prompt the color scheme to change to red, white and blue, which would be cool in terms of matching the rest of the city’s teams, but would also kill the burgundy and gold. That’s a non-starter on my end. Even if they kept the color scheme, ‘Washington Americans,’ just doesn’t have a good ring to it.
But the worst of three is probably the ‘Presidents,’ and that has nothing to do with the one currently in office. While the name fits the city well, that’s about all it fits.
The ‘Washington Presidents’ just doesn’t roll off the tongue. It just isn’t a cool name either, unlike the ‘Kings,’ which is a shorter word that has a royal flair to it. You can incorporate crowns and lions easily with ‘Kings,’ as both the Los Angeles and Sacramento teams do. What can you incorporate for ‘Presidents?’ A dude in a suit? Mount Rushmore, which has its own controversy related to Native Americans? An executive order sheet? There’s nothing good to represent it.
Politics aside, the ‘Presidents’ is just not a good name for a team.
Much like ‘Red Storm,’ the name ‘Redhawks’ has been used to replace names like ‘Redskins’ and ‘Redmen’ at the high school and collegiate levels. This name would add yet another bird team to the NFL, joining the five existing ones, which includes the two teams closest to Washington geographically (the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles).
It would also add a second ‘Hawk’ team, which may encroach on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s signature press conference sign-off of “Go Hawks.” A player catchphrase shouldn’t have any weight in this decision, but with so many bird teams already in the NFL, it would be better if the team went in a more unique direction. It’s not the worst name out there, but it’s not the best either.
While many new names have been floated around, some have suggested simply renaming the team ‘Washington Football Club’ or ‘Washington FC.’ This is a horrendous idea.
Names like that are common in soccer, or the “real” football for those around the world, and that’s perfectly fine. However, in a sport like American football, in a league where every team has its own distinct team name and mascot, changing the name to ‘Washington FC’ would be the blandest, least creative cop out.
I’m not anti-soccer, but to become the only team in the league without a real team name would be odd. It just doesn’t fit the sport, and I don’t see the appeal from a branding/marketing standpoint.
This name has gained a lot of traction recently, with current and former players expressing interest in it, and I have also hopped on the bandwagon. Looking at all factors, it would be a terrific replacement.
The Red wolf itself is native to the southeastern United States, and the ‘Red Wolf’ name holds a special significance to the US military, as it was the nickname for a Navy Reserve helicopter squadron. That part isn’t crucial to me, but if it’s necessary for Rivera and Snyder, then it at least checks that box.
As mentioned, the team has multiple bird teams, and a handful of cat teams, but the ‘Redwolves’ would become the first dog team in the NFL (or the second if you count the Cleveland Browns, whose mascot is a dog and whose fan section is referred to as the “Dawg Pound”). It allows the team to keep its color scheme and ‘HTTR’ while also providing enough of a rebrand to create a new culture.
For me, it’s the best option, and I hope to be able to root for the Redwolves soon.
Not that my opinion will matter in the grand scheme of things, but this is how I rank the possible replacements listed here:
- Washington FC
I’d say there’s a big drop-off for me after ‘Warriors,’ and an even bigger gap between ‘Redhawks’ and ‘Senators,’ but with the new name possibly coming in just a few days, I’m both nervous and excited to see which name gets picked. Comment below which name you prefer, even if I didn’t talk about it on this list.
Cover Photo Credit: G Fiume/Getty Images