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What we know: The latest on possible replacement names for Washington’s NFL franchise

What we know: The latest on possible replacement names for Washington’s NFL franchise

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, USA TODAY
Published 4:56 p.m. ET July 14, 2020 | Updated 5:43 p.m. ET July 14, 2020

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SportsPulse: While Washington’s NFL team is finally putting to bed their racially insensitive nickname. Remember there are other major sports teams whose nickname origins are linked to America’s culturally-insensitive past.

USA TODAY

Washington’s NFL team announced Monday that it will soon part ways with its name and logo after 87 years, in the wake of continued pressure from sponsors, fans and activists.

So now the question is: What’s next?

The team has offered few clues about potential replacement names and logos, nor when such branding could be unveiled. Coach Ron Rivera previously told The Washington Post that he would love to have the matter settled by the start of training camp at the end of the month, but the franchise has not specified a timeline.

While we wait, here’s a look at some of the possibilities that have been bandied about — and some of the key considerations as the team nears a decision.

What are the top contenders?

There has been no shortage of fan suggestions, obviously — many of them made in jest. (The Washington Lobbyists, Washington Beltway Drivers, etc.) But in terms of serious contenders, it appears a few have floated to the top.

Much of the most recent discussion among fans and prognosticators has revolved around nicknames that begin with “Red,” such as “Red Wolves” or “Red Tails.” This would allow the team to continue to use its “HTTR” slogan for marketing purposes; the acronym has previously been short for “Hail To The Redskins.” The “Red Tails” name would also be something of an homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, which would be in line with Rivera’s stated desire to honor members of the military with the new name.

Washington owner Daniel Snyder has also previously shown a preference for “Warriors.” He purchased an expansion franchise in the Arena Football League that was supposed to begin play in 2003 but never did. He had planned to call that team the Washington Warriors. (More on this possible name later.)

What do players and alumni think?

Only a few current and former players have chimed in on this so far, at least in a public fashion.

Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, former linebacker Will Compton and former cornerback Fred Smoot are among those who have expressed support for “Red Wolves.” Smoot, who frequently contributes to radio shows in the D.C. area, has been particularly vocal. 

“It is an endangered species. It allows us to keep the ‘HTTR,'” Smoot told NBC Sports Washington late last week. “It allows us to keep the burgundy and gold. It allows us to have some crazy uniforms. Like I said before, I can see 80,000 people in FedEx Field howling like wolves after Chase Young gets a sack to win a game.”

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, meanwhile, expressed a preference for “Red Tails” early in the process. And ex-player Doc Walker, who now co-hosts a radio show for The Team 980, has suggested the team switch to “Warriors” and revert to its 1960s logo of an arrow, describing it as an “easy” solution.

Which name do oddsmakers favor?

As of Tuesday, it was “Red Tails.” Online sports book Bovada LV listed “Red Tails” or “Red Clouds” at 2/1 odds, followed by “Warriors,” then “Hogs,” or any variety thereof. A second sports book, BetOnline.ag, has “Red Tails” at 3/1 odds, just ahead of “Generals” and “Warriors,” each at 4/1.

Interestingly, “Red Wolves” is not listed by Bovada LV, while garnering 6/1 odds at BetOnline.ag. 

What’s the concern with Warriors?

Given Snyder’s previous dabbling with the name, “Warriors” might seem like an easy solution, as Walker put it. But there’s concern that the name would maintain the link between the team and Native American imagery — especially if, for example, the new logo was the arrow with feathers that Washington previously used as branding in the 1960s.

“If that’s their idea, have they learned nothing?” said Amanda Blackhorse, who previously fought to cancel the Washington team’s federal trademark registrations.

ESPN reported last week that Washington is planning to have no Native American imagery in connection with its new name. But even if that is the case, critics say, the “Warriors” nickname has historic ties to Native American tropes that could keep that connection alive.

When will a new name be revealed?

The team has not disclosed any sort of timeline or target date for the official switch, beyond Rivera’s aforementioned preference that it be sorted out before the start of training camp. The franchise is continuing to go by “Redskins” in the interim.

The Washington Post reported this week that the team’s preferred name is caught up in a trademark fight, which has delayed its announcement. And securing that trademark is just one of several steps that will have to be taken in the coming weeks and months to completely finalize a name change.

There’s new merchandise to be manufactured and distributed, old logos and team names to be scrubbed from promotional and sponsor materials. Then, of course, the team’s equipment itself. NFL Network, for example, reported Monday that the franchise’s equipment staff has already received its equipment for the upcoming season, with the previous logo and name — jerseys, helmet decals, etc. that will all need to be changed before the team fully embraces its new branding.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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