The Washington Redskins are no more. While the new name and image aren’t ready yet, the clean break has occurred. The organization now operates under the parody-ready temporary name, the Washington Football Team. After decades of pressure, recent protests finally pushed the team’s sponsors to force ownership to do something.
Whatever the reasons, the end result is positive for many who disagree with the use of a slur in a team name. But a different question lingers. What will happen to the leadership and owner who built the culture of this long-term struggling franchise?
The organization at the core of the Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team did not land on its name change without facing intense pressure. Sponsors, led by FedEx, forced the issue against the long-term obstinacy of owner Dan Snyder. Struggles on the field and off have marked his tenure, leading to many fans pushing for a change.
Snyder’s control over his subordinates goes beyond what most successful owners do. The team regularly obtains players capable of turning the team into a winning franchise but drops the ball on spending to acquire the extra pieces to make them shine. This has been consistent since Snyder acquired the team in 1999, according to the Washington Post.
Then there’s Bruce Allen, son of legendary Redskins coach George Allen, functions as a de facto co-owner of sorts. He functions the way certain nepotism hires so often do, swinging his weight in ways that prevent the team from succeeding, as Fansided reports. The team hasn’t performed anywhere close to the expectations of their once-passionate fans since the days of Joe Gibbs, who is more interested in his NASCAR team these days.
The dismal treatment of Washington’s players
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had an incredible year at Ohio State before bombing as a rookie with the then-Redskins. Few observers expressed surprise, given the way the organization regularly takes on great players only to watch them falter in a Redskins uniform. This pattern is unlikely to change under the banner of the Washington Football Team, with much of the same structure in place.
Few blamed fired head coach Jay Gruden for the struggles, another tell that the problems go straight to the top. Worse still, the rot appears to reach almost every corner of the organization. Often, this manifests in ways that are detrimental not just to the team’s record on the field, but the health and safety of the players themselves.
Previous coverage in Sportscasting has repeatedly covered this issue. The Redskins have alarming spates of career-changing injuries throughout the Snyder era. It even led to Trent Williams vociferously demanding a trade over medial mismanagement in particular. A team that doesn’t much care about the well-being of their own players is one that won’t be saved by a simple name change.
The sexual harassment scandal that surprised no one
Removing players from the equation entirely, the culture of the former Redskins front office is a notoriously nasty one. The boy’s club atmosphere was long-known. But when a wave of sexual harassment accusations landed, right when the name change was announced, it all became explicit. This is a team with problems among every single aspect of how it’s run, with only the very top executives enjoying mutual respect among themselves.
This all follows the February hire of Jennifer King as a full-year coaching intern, SB Nation reports. She comes on a recommendation from her previous performance working with new Washington head coach Ron Rivera. The new coaching staff was presented as some kind of cultural shift for the team. But knowing how badly the team is run at all other levels, throwing out Gruden for Rivera won’t fix what’s wrong with the Washington Football Team. Neither will the name change.