Well, you can’t please everybody.
After spending the first 18 years of the new millennium opposing all critics and defying anyone who wanted the Redskins name to be dropped (“you can use all caps”), Dan Snyder finally succumbed to direct pressure from major corporate sponsors 18 months ago and abandoned the moniker the franchise had used since 1933.
On Wednesday this week, in a spectacular event broadcast live and exclusively on the prestigious Today show, the Washington franchise announced to the world its new name: the Commanders.
Shortly after, in front of a handful of journalists and former players wearing varsity jackets outside and seated on metal folding chairs on a freezing February morning, there were brief comments by Dan and Tanya Snyder before the new uniforms and team logo were unveiled to hesitant applause from the assembled group.
I think the execution of the rebrand unveiling could best be described as a “double-doink”.
With months to prepare, when the moment arrived for the big name reveal on national TV, it looked like a game of hot-potato as team president Jason Wright deferred by hooking his thumb to indicate Doug Williams, who then put his arm around a glowering Jonathan Allen as the confused cameraman struggled to figure out where to aim, and Doug stated, “We are the Commanders”.
No one was surprised by the big reveal, which had been leaked in numerous ways over several weeks in advance of the announcement, but the fan base responded with a collective shrug and a frown on social media platforms. The name Commanders was not among the favorites that many had been hoping for, and it struck a lot of fans as being overly generic and lacking in any real meaning or identity.
The unveiling of a “W” logo that is a slightly modified version of the one that the Football Team employed for two seasons also failed to inspire.
19 months of brainstorming and creative process pic.twitter.com/fjXWffvy6c— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) February 2, 2022
Of course, a certain amount of pushback on the rebrand from longtime fans of the Redskins was always expected — inevitable, really — and Jason Wright has spent most of the past year reminding everyone repeatedly that, no matter what name was chosen, people would be disappointed, and that it is impossible to please everybody.
Well, he was right on both counts. Many were disappointed, and very few Washington fans were pleased.
But what about NFL fans more generally?
For those who had no real love for the Redskins name — many of whom actively lobbied against it — what did they think of the new name?
SB Nation, through its polling platform, NFL Reacts, asked SB Nation readers from all NFL fanbases what they thought.
The name isn’t a hit.
But one thing that everyone should be able to agree on, at least, is that anything would be better than the Washington Football Team non-name that the franchise used in 2020-21, right?
Now, I remember the derision that fans across the nation heaped on Washington in July of 2020 when it was announced that the former Redskins would play under the WFT label. There were howls of laughter.
The fact that, after two seasons of football, the WFT brand, such as it is, is seen more positively than the new team name of Commanders says a lot about how people adapt to things.
Commanders is strange and new. It is generic and bland.
The logo is boring and the mascot is ‘under construction’.
The hashtag (#takecommand) is recycled from the now-defunct AAF San Antonio Commanders team.
Even the uniforms, which we had been promised in advance would be “tough”, leave a lot to be desired.
Pretty wild how Washington backed into one of the best uniforms in the league when they made the switch to WFT— David Helman (@HelmanDC) February 2, 2022
… and then purposefully opted away from that in favor of this. https://t.co/bF2KF4HyPM
But it’s a work in progress.
Please fix the white jerseys @whoisjwright @Commanders @juliedonaldson_ pic.twitter.com/FFJGrH9BG4— The Washington Brass (@TheBrassDC) February 2, 2022
Washington, in the space of just over a calendar year, turned the Washington Football Team — literally the most generic name possible — into a brand of its own with a pretty cool retro look.
Surely, they’ll be able to work with a real team name.
Everyone is a little traumatized right now. After going 81 years without changing the city or team name, we’re on our third name in a year and a half.
But it’ll be alright. Jason Wright and his crack team of event planners are on the job. When the first touchdown is scored in the first home game of the 2022 season, and the crowd breaks out singing the team fight song, we can all smile, knowing that all is well.
Then we can start planning for the next big change: the new stadium in 2027.
So sit back, relax and smile.
What could go wrong?