Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

Jane Levey of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., believes local residents should have a say, but choosing a name with local ties will be tricky. 

After years of protest, Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise will finally retire its name. 

“Dan Snyder (team owner) and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years,” the team said in a statement released on Monday.

The process for choosing a team name has varied across professional sports. Perhaps the most common strategy has been a mix of fan voting and local references. In 1976, the NFL’s Tampa Bay franchise held a “name-the-team” contest. From there, an advisory board selected “Buccaneers” out of 400 possibilities based on the local history of pirate invasions on Florida’s western coast. 

For now, it seems decisions on the Washington team’s new name and logo will be made internally. 

Jane Levey of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., believes local residents should have a say, but choosing a name with local ties will be tricky. 

“Many of our (professional) team names have to do with the federal government,” Levey said. 

Examples include the MLB’s Washington Nationals and the NHL’s Washington Capitals. 

Names like the Washington Union, Jeffersons, Federals, Diplomats, and Senators have all been used in the past, but there’s much more to the area than just the federal government.

“We’re at the heart of a region and we share things with other cities,” Levey explained. “We could be the Washington Half-Smokes or Crabs, but people from Baltimore would give you a very long argument… because those foods belong to them.” 

One notable current D.C. resident expressed his disapproval of the name change. President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this month: “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.” 

Trump also cited a 2016 Washington Post poll that said that nine out of 10 Native Americans weren’t offended by the team’s name. However, only 504 people out of the country’s roughly 5.2 million Native Americans were polled. 

Levey, a D.C. native, believes people in 20 years will wonder why this change came so late. The first major request to change it came in 1972. 

“What the heck took so long?” she asked. “People have been upset with (the name) for a very long time.”

According to sports betting outlets, Redwolves, Redtails, and Warriors are the most likely candidates for the new nickname. Redtails is a reference to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II  and Warriors, being significantly less offensive, is a nod to Native Americans. 

Several sports outlets have reported that team officials are trying to acquire trademarks before they make an announcement on the new name.