The countdown is on for the Washington Football Team to unveil the new name, logo and jerseys that will represent the franchise next season and the years to come.
It will be a historic moment on Feb. 2 when the announcement is made on NBC's “The Today Show” for an organization that’s among the oldest in football, having played under the name “Redskins” for 86 years with three Super Bowl wins and a pair of pre-merger NFL championships to show for it.
When Washington does announce the new name Wednesday, it will signal a turning of the page for the team and its fans. Though it’s been playing as the Washington Football Team for two years now, the rebranding process will give the franchise a chance to put some of its past mistakes behind it.
The front office culture investigation, the pressure to drop “Redskins” for its portrayal of Native Americans and a general lack of winning on the football field the last 20 years can all be left as part of the previous era should the team take true steps forward in both competitiveness and integrity.
NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay hosted a roundtable discussion this week on the team’s next steps with Telemundo-44 anchor — and Washington football’s Spanish language play-by-play man — Moises Linares as well as former players Joe Theismann and Santana Moss. They talked about the rich traditions the organization has shared with its fans and how it can build off them heading into a new era.
“We are moving in a different direction,” Linares said. “This is a new chapter in franchise history, but it does not mean — for all fans out there — it does not mean we need to forget what happened before. We need to learn from that rich history. Those championship teams that Joe [Thiesmann] was a part of are still part of the history of this team. We have to learn from that and try to implement some of that winning mentality and what comes moving forward.
“I think people are kind of scared that we're forgetting what this team was. They were the Washington Redskins at one point in time. They will always be the Washington Redskins at that time…We begin a new chapter. We turn the page and we start all over again, but always remembering where we come from.”
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The group agreed it’s understandable for fans to feel nostalgic about the name change. Gone are the days of signing “Hail to the Redskins.” Jerseys purchased by fans over the years are outdated, even if the player whose name is on the back still plays for the team. Washington’s three Lombardi trophies no longer show the same name of the team that D.C. sports fans will be cheering on.
It’s a new era, a chance to hit the reset button. But Washington’s history good and bad is still, and always will be, part of the franchise.
“History, I don't think will ever fade,” Theismann said. “We won three world championships as the Washington Redskins. The trophies read that. That's who we were at that time. Now, as society continues to change and things continue to evolve in this organization -- we're talking specifically now about a name change. But there are so many other things in the organization that they're changing: the culture, everything that the Washington Football Team has looked at, the things that they're trying to do in the community, the relationships.
“And that’s why I'm so glad we kept the colors. You can change the name, but there’s still going to be an identification of the burgundy and gold…those are all going to bind us together. And what's unique about where we were as the Washington Redskins and then the Washington Football Team and whatever we're going to be going forward, it's a chance for these young players right now on this football team to be able to create a legacy like we were fortunate enough to be part of. Now you come out and you start winning again, people will talk about the past, but they’ll be excited about the future.”