Washington Commanders is the new name for former Redskins NFL team

American football team dropped old name for its racist connotations

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Washington's American football team, formerly known as the Redskins, will from now on be called the Commanders, the club announced on Wednesday.

The reveal was made at FedEx Field, the team's home stadium right outside the US capital before a national television audience on NBC's Today show.

The move comes 20 months after the club “retired” the Redskins moniker after sponsors began pressuring the team to make a change. It opted to be called the Washington Football Team for the past two seasons while a decision on a new name was considered.

Dozens of team faithful braved freezing temperatures to help usher in the new era at the stadium.

Jeff Labrador came wrapped up against the cold in a Redskins mask and a jacket emblazoned with the three Super Bowl championships the team has won.

“I figured this was a changing of the guard, it’s a new year, it’s a new start so let's get this right,” said the 59-year-old lifelong fan.

Mr Labrador reluctantly accepted the team needed to change its name.

“That’s the way society is today,” he told The National, and added that he liked the new name.

Nate Scarlett, another lifelong fan was less enthusiastic. “It’s OK,” he said. “It will grow on me.”

Criticism from Native American communities

Founded in 1932 as the Boston Braves, the team changed its name to the Redskins the following year and moved to the US capital in 1937.

Criticism of the name has grown over the years from both fans and Native American communities but team owner Dan Snyder vowed he would keep the name and the team symbol of a side view of a Native American warrior's face.

“It's a name that has the weight and meaning befitting a 90-year-old franchise,” team president Jason Wright said.

“It's a name that broadly resonated with our fans.

“It's something that can allow us to tie the history and the rich championship legacy of this franchise to new traditions in the future.”

In 2020, following protests after the murder of George Floyd, team and NFL sponsors threatened to remove their backing if the team didn't drop Redskins as the name. Some stores began removing Redskins merchandise.

The team announced it would conduct a review of the name and in July 2020 announced it would “retire” the Redskins for the generic Washington Football Team, keeping its colours of burgundy and gold while setting the stage for the latest renaming.

“I loved it,” Washington captain Jonathan Allen said. “We're excited about it and we're going to go forward with it. We're excited about the future.”

As the Redskins, the club won the NFL title in 1937 and 1942 and captured Super Bowl crowns for the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: February 02, 2022, 3:10 PM
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