The NFL team formerly known as the Redskins will go by the Washington Football Team for at least the 2020 season, giving the organization time to choose a new, full-time name.
Gone is the Indian head logo and the name Native American advocates have called a dictionary-defined racial slur. Here to stay are the burgundy and gold colours that are synonymous with the franchise’s storied history.
Executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Terry Bateman, hired Monday to oversee the name change and rebranding process, called the temporary design “a nice link between the history and the future.”
“This is an organic kind of move,” Bateman said in a phone interview Thursday. “We wanted to think it through and really try to figure out what is the best approach for us, for the community, for the fans, for everybody, and came to the conclusion that what we wanted to do was to go slow with the renaming process and really be very thoughtful, very inclusive, respectful and all those things. That’s going to require some time to do it right.”
With training camp opening next week, the process begins Friday of scrubbing the old name and logo from everything at the team’s headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Bateman expects that process to be completed by the start of the season.
That’s when the real work begins to select a new name. More than 1,000 names have been submitted, and Red Wolves and Red Tails are among the betting favourites on online sportsbooks.
“I’ve gotten long letters from people explaining their idea,” Bateman said. “What I tell everybody is everything that comes in will be put in the hopper.”
Owner Dan Snyder recently dropped the Redskins name amid pressure from sponsors and after decades of criticism from Native American advocacy groups. The franchise that began in Boston in 1932 had the name Redskins since 1933.
A player’s jersey number will replace the logo on Washington’s helmets, which will get their first close-up on Sept. 13 in the season opener against Philadelphia. Washington Football Team is the name throughout 2020 and could stick beyond that if the name change process drags on.
“We’re not going to put an artificial time frame on it,” Bateman said.
Marketing experts hope Snyder, coach Ron Rivera and Washington’s creative department consult with the community before determining a new name. Bateman expects fans, sponsors and others to have input before a final decision is made.
“I think it’s critically important because you don’t want to do (a name change) again,” Carnegie Mellon associate professor of marketing and strategy Tim Derdenger said recently. “You don’t want to mess this up, so they really need to take it seriously.”