The Washington NFL team has a new name, for now.
To buy time, the team announced Thursday it would go by the “Washington Football Team” until a new name is chosen. The decision follows last week’s announcement that the team would retire the name “Redskins,” a racial slur against Native Americans that had been used since 1933.
Instead of rushing into a new name, the team has settled on the vague moniker for the foreseeable future, with new uniforms being unveiled with “Washington” printed on players’ chests and their jersey numbers replacing the Native American mascot on their helmets.
While the team’s website is still redskins.com, the site’s home page explains the name change and has no other reference to the former mascot. The team’s official Twitter account changed its handle to @WashingtonNFL and scrubbed any derogatory words or images from the profile.
“For updated brand clarity and consistency purposes, we will call ourselves the ‘Washington Football Team’ pending adoption of our new name,” according to an unattributed release on the website. “The Redskins name and logo will officially be retired by the start of the 2020 season. We encourage fans, media and all other parties to use “Washington Football Team” immediately.
Players, including quarterback Dwayne Haskins and defensive end Chase Young, expressed their enthusiasm about the subtle uniform change on Twitter.
“Ready to roll!” Haskins said. “To represent my family and the DMV area. Here’s to a great season!”
The Eagles will be the first team to get an up-close look at Washington’s new home uniforms when they open the season on Sept. 13 at FedEx Field.
Changing the team colors was never considered, new executive vice president and chief marketing officer Terry Bateman told ESPN.
“That’s not something we ever discussed changing,” Bateman said. “We want to preserve our history. We have a great history, we want to link it in. The burgundy and gold is an important part of who we are. I can’t see that changing, but that’s not my call.”
Washington will take its time selecting its next name with the interim one in place, while “seeking the feedback of players, alumni, fans, sponsors and the community for the team name it will use in the future,” according to the report.
While many are glad to see any new name, there was criticism of Washington’s leadership, headed up by owner Dan Snyder, being so unprepared for a change that a temporary name was necessary.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James mocked the lack of preparation on Twitter.
“Just waking back up from my pregame nap to see about The Washington Football Team???” James tweeted. “Is that real?? No way! Oh man they had a thorough intense long board meeting about that one huh.”
Former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant expressed concern for player morale, calling it a “soul crusher” to not have an actual name.