The new name is in. After two full seasons playing under the bland moniker the Washington Football Team, owner Dan Snyder and his organization have finally chosen a new name: the Washington Commanders.
The name is OK and will become second-nature to football fans within a season or two. However, there were some better names out there. Here are the four best names Snyder should have chosen.
Is Washington Commanders a good name?
The Washington Commanders name is much better than the generic Washington Football Team name the franchise has used the last two seasons. And, it is much, much, much better than the insensitive, offensive name the club used for nearly a century before that.
Overall, the Commanders nickname is a six out of 10. It’s good. The strong, memorable name is befitting a team in the nation’s capital and employs presidential and military themes that make sense.
On the other hand, it isn’t the most exciting or creative name. Plus, if the team co-opts its old fight song, “Hail to the Commanders” seems a little aggressive. And, as Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway pointed out on Twitter, we now have a team in Washington D.C. that’s name can be shortened to “Commies.” That’s not great.
While the name is now set in stone (at least until notoriously impatient Dan Snyder changes his mind again), let’s look at the four best names the Washington outfit could have chosen.
4. Washington Federals
The old Washington Football Team hasn’t always been the only pro football game in town. For two years in the early 1980s, the USFL’s Washington Federals played in the nation’s capital. Sure, the team was terrible, nobody went to the games, and it eventually moved to Orlando for the league’s final season, but it is a cool name.
The Federals could have been a complete rebrand from the old name while still paying tribute to pro football history in D.C. It was never the most likely name, but it would have been a historical and interesting choice.
3. Washington Armada
How many team nicknames do not have an “s” at the end in the big four North American pro sports leagues? Take a guess.
The answer is currently 10 (Red Sox, White Sox, Avalanche, Wild, Lightning, Thunder, Magic, Jazz, Heat, Kraken). The answer could have been 11 if the Washington Armada came to fruition.
This name sticks with the military theme that Snyder and company seem to like, but it’s much more interesting than Washington Commanders. It would also have the distinction of being the first and only NFL team to have a nickname without an “s” as the end, which would make it unique and part of an answer to a great trivia question.
2. Washington Red Hogs
If Snyder and his cohorts really wanted to make a splash and come up with a new name based on the history of this team, Washington Red Hogs (or simply Hogs) would have made for a much better choice than Washington Commanders.
The Hogs was the nickname given to the team’s dominating offensive line in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. The unit — which included greats like Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Jim Lachey, Mark May, and Mark Schlereth — helped the organization win three Super Bowls (’82, ’87, ’91), paving the way for running backs John Riggins and Timmy Smith and protecting quarterbacks Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien.
The Hogs could have been a completely new take on the animal mascot theme that the NFL, and sports teams in general, love while also perfectly fitting the Washington football franchise.
1. Washington Red Tails
The original Washington Football Team name was unfortunate, but the biggest issue as time went on was Snyder’s stubborn refusal to change it. The owner had a way not only to change the name but also to offer a mea culpa of sorts for his years of insensitivity, and that answer wasn’t the Washington Commanders. It was the Washington Red Tails.
Red Tails was the nickname of the Tuskegee Airmen. This group of primarily Black pilots who flew in World War II is a massively important part of U.S. history. After years with a name that was derogatory toward a minority group, the Red Tails would have honored one while keeping the “Red” piece of the old moniker to tie it to the franchise’s history.
Red Tails was a win-win-win nickname that would be a 10 out of 10 on the new name scale. Instead, we get Washington Commanders, which is fine but not a home run. However, it’s the name we got and the one that will make all the others fade into memory soon enough.
Hail, Commanders! (See, a little weird, right?)