Why did the Washington Redskins change their name to Commanders?

Washington Commanders v Chicago Bears
Why did the Washington Redskins change their name to Commanders?

The Washington Commanders have completed 91 seasons in the NFL. During this time, the team has changed its name four times, including one pretty significant shift away from the controversial 'Redskins' moniker.

When the football franchise was formed in 1932, they were known as the Boston Braves. The very next year, they became known as the Boston Redskins. In 1937, they moved to Washington.

For the next 86 years, the team played under the name the Washington Redskins. In 2020, they changed their name to the Washington Football Team. In February 2022, their name was officially changed to the Washington Commanders.

But what led to the franchising changing its name twice in such a short period?


Why did the Washington Redskins choose Commanders as their team name?

The name 'Redskins' was marred by controversy for several years as Native Americans deemed the term a racial slur. Although the organization stated that they opted for this name to honor the Native American tribes, it was heavily criticized and many activists consider it offensive.

For several decades, Native Americans protested the football team's name and asked for it to be changed. In 1972, a delegation of Native Americans met the team's president, Edward Bennett, and urged him to change the team's name.

Although the team's name remained the same, they changed their fight song lyrics, replacing “Scalp ’um” with “Beat ’em." They also removed the cheerleaders’ black-braided wigs.

In 2020, the franchise faced public pressure to change its name and logo. As the wave of criticism rose throughout the country, the team's major sponsors, such as Nike and FedEx, pressured Washington to change its name.

In July 2020, the owners of the team finally decided to act and announced that the team would play under the name Washington Football Team. It was a temporary name that would be used until the franchise decided upon a new name that wouldn't be considered offensive in any way.

In January 2022, Washington announced the seven options they had in mind for the franchise's name: Armada, Brigade, Red Hogs, Presidents, Commanders, RedWolves, and Defenders.

A month later, on Feb. 2, 2022, Washington announced its new name would be the Washington Commanders. The team's then-owner Dan Synder, said in a statement:

“As we kick off our 90th season, it is important for our organization and fans to pay tribute to our traditions, history, legacy, and the greats that came before us. We continue to honor and represent the Burgundy and Gold while forging a pathway to a new era in Washington. Today may mark the first day for the Washington Commanders, but we are and always will be Washington.”
Commanders Patriots Football
Commanders Patriots Football

Washington played for two seasons under the "Football Team" name and, in 2022, entered the season under the name Washington Commanders. Many fans and famous personalities did not find the name to be appealing, but reports suggest that the Commanders will serve as the long-term name for the franchise.

The Washington outfit is currently playing its 92nd season in the league. The franchise has won two NFL championships and three Super Bowls so far.

Quick Links