Effective immediately, Washington will call itself the “Washington Football Team” pending the adoption of a new name, the franchise announced.
This is not a final renaming and rebranding for the team; this is the name it wants to use until pending adoption of a new name at some point.
The team will continue the process of retiring the former name and hopes to be entirely rid of it on physical and digital spaces in the next 50 days, by the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Washington will not have any change to its color scheme. It will still use burgundy and gold, and the logo on the helmet will be replaced by the player’s number in gold. The Washington Football Team will debut its home uniforms in Week 1 against the Eagles, and its road uniforms in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.
While the Washington Football Teams uses these uniforms and helmets for the 2020 season, it will be seeking the feedback of players, alumni, fans, sponsors and the community for the team name it will use in the future.
Fans will be able to purchase “Washington Football Team” merchandise from Fanatics and NFL Shop in the coming days.
The team retired the name it had used for 87 years on July 13 after launching a thorough review 10 days earlier.
Team owner Dan Snyder had, for years, resisted consideration to change the name — telling USA Today in 2013 to “put it in all caps” that he would never make such a move. Some who worked for Snyder said they believed then that he would rather sell the team than use a new name.
The controversy surrounding the name predated Snyder’s purchase of the team in May 1999. When Washington played at Super Bowl XXVI following the 1991 season, there were 2,000 protestors outside the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Then-owner Jack Kent Cooke said of any possible change, “There is not a single, solitary jot, tittle, whit chance in the world. I like the name, and it’s not a derogatory name.”
But Snyder and the franchise have been under more pressure after the protests following the death of George Floyd in May while he was in police custody in Minneapolis. Within a few weeks of Floyd’s death, multiple sources said Snyder had been discussing the name change with NFL officials for several weeks already.
During this time, a letter signed by 87 investors and shareholders who hold a total worth of $620 billion was sent to sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo and Nike, asking them to stop doing business with the team unless the name changed. When that news came out in an Adweek.com story on July 1, multiple people — including current and former team employees — echoed the same thought: It’s over. Most, if not all, were unaware that a possible change was in the works.
On July 2, FedEx issued a statement saying it had told the team it wanted the name changed. The other sponsors later released statements saying the same. Amazon said it would stop selling the team’s merchandise. Walmart and Target said it would stop selling the gear in stores. And, according to The Washington Post, FedEx said it would remove its signage from the stadium if the name was not changed by the 2021 season.
FedEx signed a 27-year naming rights deal for $205 million in 1998. The company’s owner and CEO, Fred Smith, has been a minority shareholder in the Washington franchise since 2003. However, according to multiple reports, he and the other minority investors, Dwight Schar and Bob Rothman, want to sell their stakes. Snyder, his sister and his mother own 60% of the franchise.
ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.