There are certain phrases in history people have learned to be skeptical about. Like I’ll pay you tomorrow. Or the check is in the mail.
Then there’s the one we all hear when football season is about to start: The NFL team in Washington is going to soon announce its new nickname.
That happened this weekend when team president Jason Wright – who from everything I’ve seen and heard is an extremely intelligent good and honorable man – said the team nickname would be decided by 2022. I believe he meant this and has every intention of seeing that it happens.
I just don’t believe it.
Instead, it smacks of kicking the can down the road – again – and that the team doesn’t really want to announce a new name. I said this the day the team announced it was retiring the Redskins name, and I based it on the belief Dan Snyder would like to have things both ways.
With the absence of any new name, people continue their habits of the past. In my house when the team scores a touchdown, we sing “Hail To The Redskins.” When we talk about the primary game to watch on TV on a Sunday, we talk about the “Redskins” game. The mountain of shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and other objects accumulated from over 50 years of being a fan of the team all use that name and have the previous logo all over it.
This would not be the case had the team come up with a new name sooner than later. If they had been named the Washington Warriors, Federals or whatever they decide upon, the transition in my mind – and I believe the same of every other fan – would have begun to the new name.
I mean, look down the list of NFL franchises and they all have a nickname, except one. Announcers still end up calling the team the Redskins during broadcasts because it’s almost muscle memory to call a team by its name and nickname, as in “touchdown, New York Giants.” The team, in trying to make “touchdown, Washington Football Team” a thing, is pushing water uphill. You can just hear the awkward pause in an announcer’s voice as he says “Washington” and then catches himself before saying Redskins.
Some say it any way.
The team is asking everyone to believe it takes two full years to come up with a name for a rebrand, but if you’ve worked in marketing, you know that’s not true. Maybe it takes two years to come up with a name nobody has trademarked, but by taking so long, I think every person in the country with a computer and an internet connection has researched every imaginable potential name and trademarked them all. Whatever the team eventually chooses, odds are they’re going to have to negotiate with someone to buy that name.
I don’t know what the end game is, because I don’t see any condition in the future that would allow the team to go back to using the Redskins name. Maybe the team is going to change ownership and they’re leaving it up to the new owners, which I doubt. Maybe the NFL is demanding this and the team is dragging its feet in a passive aggressive way.
But exactly one year ago on Monday, July 13, 2020, the team said it was retiring the name and offered no hint or timetable for what the new name would be. Today, on Monday, July 12, 2021, they’ve offered little evidence that they are any closer to a solution, other than Wright’s announcement.
A team actively seeking a new name probably would have come up with something in time to capitalize on a rush of merchandise sales for the holidays in 2020. The antics of the team the last few years has caused my interest in the team to wane a bit, but if they changed names, I would at least have a new golf shirt and sweatshirt reflecting that. Even if I didn’t choose to buy it myself, I would have been given several for Christmas. It’s an almost automatic choice for family members struggling to come up with what to buy for a person they know is a big fan of the team.
Seems like when you’ve lost significant revenue from not being able to sell tickets for all seats to games in 2020, that would be a priority. But it wasn’t, and now one year later they’re saying they’re kicking the can down the road for another year.
Maybe they do have a plan. Maybe they have already picked a name. Maybe things will end up happening just as Wright said.
I guess we’ll find out on July 11, 2022, when we’ll hear either the new nickname of the team.
Or another announcement.
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You're right. Of course I doubt fans of any persuation forget the Washington Redskins as quickly as they forgot the New York Titans - today's Jets.
That first year some people probably still called them the Titans, as it takes a couple of years for the old name to die out and the new one became familiar. And New York immediately changed the name, instead of waiting two years while calling it by a generic moniker...