Without question, and in no uncertain terms, the nickname of the Washington Football Team must change, and immediately. There is really no argument against, whether one boasts about the storied history regarding a franchise or city, or a conversation about tradition or convention. None of those stand up to the fact that the name is simply offensive, derogatory, and outdated.
Let’s move ahead of that argument though, because here we want to ponder the future. At some point, the name will have to be changed, whether owner Dan Snyder is forced to do it or he decides to lead the charge. It will mean finally relenting on a subject he has been steadfastly against, for reasons unknown. Well, the reasons are in part that he makes a lot of money and has been a lifelong fan of the team. While he is not alone on this side, the sun is setting on the name. Aside from people no longer using that phrase (the most important factor), it would be a highly-talked about and distracting issue for the NFL to finally move beyond, and what’s more, it means added money coming in for all the new merchandise that comes with a new logo.
It wouldn’t be the first time a team named changed over negative connotations, and not even the first in Washington. The NBA team that is the Wizards was once the Bullets, but owner Abe Pollin, saddened by gun violence and the team’s association with it, changed the name.
Regardless, what we will have within the next few years is a situation where we need a new nickname for an important NFL franchise.
So we are here to help. It needs to be changed to something, but what? Do we look to history? Or perhaps we reflect the unique city itself, with something like the Washington Nationals? Or maybe we just go generically fierce, like the Thrashers or Predators or Panthers or Jaguars? The most recent NBA name change led to the Pelicans – so clearly there is a bias towards animals in professional sports.
The NHL has a bunch of nicknames that are inherently singular, so maybe we need an NFL team like the Avalanche or Lightning or Wild. It’s also probably too soon (and boring) to go the soccer route, and just name a team Washington FC, but maybe not?
There are plenty of options and directions, and for this purpose here we will explore those that are fitting, honourable, and simply fun. Sorry Houston, but Texans? We can do better than that.
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10 Washington Yellow Jackets
Sports all around, especially college football, love them some animal nicknames. I’m not sure Wasps is the best for Dan Snyder’s new team, so how about the Yellow Jackets? It can be shorted to just ‘Jackets,’ as ‘YJs’ doesn’t’ quite role off the tongue, but with it we can maintain the gold of the 'burgundy and gold' and have something completely different than the previous name while being utterly innocuous. Sure, there are a lot of college teams with this moniker, and it's used in a lot of comic books for cool super villains, but it hasn't hit the professional level. The closest would be the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, a reference to Civil War soldiers, and sorry hockey, but the Washington Yellow Jackets would be instantly more popular.
9 Washington Spiders
More bugs! This serves a dual goal in creating both a name that is distant from the past but also appeals to the owner. We can’t name the team the Snyders (well, maybe, we do have the Browns), but Spiders sounds pretty similar, so maybe Dan Snyder will go for it. You can make up any colors you want (including keeping the old ones), you don’t have to pander to the city’s history, and you have a name that isn’t used in any of the major North American franchises. Plus editors will enjoy using phrases like ‘squashed’ and ‘exterminated’ when they lose.
8 Washington Red Dragons
In keeping with the animal (right?) theme, let’s go to a nickname that has been oft-thrown around and at the top of many potential lists for past teams, yet never finalized. Someone has to take it, and it will eventually, surely, be a team nickname somewhere. The Toronto Raptors were almost the Dragons, as were the Bullets. Dragons are awesome, fierce, totally in right now and also completely inoffensive. The same colours can be used or they can be completely thrown out; really, any colours can be used. And you don’t even need the red, it can just be the Dragons, which can inevitably lead to a variety of alternate logos and jerseys.
7 Washington Americans
Neither Snyder nor the NFL are ones to be shy or humble, so why not go all out and call the team ‘The Americans?’ You’ll have to forgo the burgundy and gold for the red, white, and blue, but a complete overhaul might be good. Part of the benefit of changing names and logos is a metaphoric shedding of the past, which hopefully rejuvenates a once proud and now dysfunctional club. The best part with this name is that twice a year the Washington Americans will take to the field to face off against ‘America’s Team’ in the battle for the heart of the homeland.
6 Washington Warriors
Here is another fairly popular nickname that has recently been discussed. This one can go a couple different ways in terms of logos and meanings, but the best part is that it’s alliterative, and people love that. Talk has swirled around whether this can be a more respectful reference to Native American history, but it’s wise to dispel that belief right away. The past logo can be altered somewhat to get away from having a group of people as an actual mascot, but the burgundy and gold can stay. Even better, Warriors could just be something vague and unassuming, but slightly evocative, just like the NFL enjoys.
5 Washington Federals
Sure, they don’t actually play in D.C., but still, this works. Federals is another nickname that has been discussed quite a bit, as it of course references the city’s political stature. There are already the Capitals and the Nationals in the area, so here we have an equally thematically-inclined name that speaks to the district. What’s more, we’ve an easy shortened nickname with the Feds. This name moves completely away from the past, though there was already a Washington Federals football team in the USFL in the 80s, and would open the door for a variety of creative symbols and logos, as well as a refreshing new colour scheme. Also, they play at FedExField, so the Feds name would fit right in.
4 Washington Warlocks
Well, if we are going to consider keeping with the governmental theme, aligning with the baseball and hockey franchises, then we should look the other way too and not leave out the NBA club. Wizards is a cool name in and of itself, if not just a bit absurd and entirely random. After all, there are really no connections to Washington (or any city). So we have the Wizards, and now we have the Warlocks. Here is another alliterative, magical name that has slightly more aggressive and tougher implications, fitting for football. At the same time, it doesn’t really make sense, and that’s kind of fun too.
3 Washington Rebels
Here you are, Mr. Snyder: something defiant, slightly historic (sort of), and a name that can maintain the same colour scheme. The gold and burgundy can stay, you can keep the ‘R’ in the nickname, and everyone carries on. It speaks to a team that is resilient and with a storied history, as opposed to just some random animal and whatever a warlock is. The name though, offers plenty of possibilities when it comes to logo design (maybe only a slight alteration of the current logo is needed) and colours. Plus there would seem to be some symmetry with the Rebels and the Cowboys facing off twice a year.
2 Washington Sentinels
The Replacements is a fantastic football movie with a great heart, and among its many gifts is the name Washington Sentinels. Of course that was the team that washed-out quarterback Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) led to the playoffs with a bunch of scabs, and wasn’t it glorious? The real Washington football team needs both a quarterback and inspiration, and here we go. Plus, it wouldn’t be the first time a professional sports team looked to the movies to name a team (ahem, Mighty Ducks). If only Washington could get Gene Hackman to coach, and then maybe they will make the playoffs.
1 Washington Red Wolves
Firstly, wolves are pretty awesome. Jaguars and Panthers are nice, but for most people, those are sort of cartoonish, almost esoteric animals and don’t really instill any fear – unless of course you bear witness to them. Wolves are more ubiquitous, something easily realized (especially if you’ve seen The Grey). Secondly, we keep the ‘Red’ of the previous name, we have a bit of alliteration, and we have a real life animal that actually roams around D.C. It’s also unique, and not at all controversial. Thirdly, if you want to take this a step further, Cherokee mythology regarded the red wolf as sacred, abstaining from killing it for fear of retribution. Moreover, the red wolf hunted alongside humans. Lastly, the red wolf is endangered, so Washington can endear itself to those trying to save animals and make everyone happy. Except for all the fans when they miss the playoffs yet again.
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