On Feb. 2, 2022, the Washington Football Team will enter a new era. The organization will release its permanent moniker and logo after the temporary, 18-month tenure as the 'Washington Football Team' following the retirement of 'Redskins' in July 2020.
Regardless of what the franchise's new name ultimately is, expect a decent percentage of the fan base to react negatively. There are still many fans that wish the old name had never been retired. Another large contingent of them fell in love with the possibility of being the 'Red Wolves' or 'Wolves,' names that have officially been ruled out due to copyright issues.
Whether Washington takes the field as the Admirals, Commanders, Hogs, Brigade, or something else in 2022 and beyond, there's one thing that matters most. It's not the name on the jersey or the logo on the helmet. It's the product on the field.
"I just want these guys to put out a winning product," former Washington wide receiver Santana Moss said during the latest Washington Football Talk podcast. "If they can do that, we can solve all of the hooplas that's going on about the team name and everything else."
Moss is among the best wideouts in Washington franchise history. He led the Burgundy and Gold in receiving yards six separate seasons and holds the franchise record for most yards in a single year with 1,483 in 2005. Only Art Monk, Charley Taylor and Gary Clark have more receiving yards wearing a Washington uniform than Moss.
Yet, as Moss pointed out during the discussion, he only made the playoffs three times in his 10 seasons with Washington. Only once was Moss part of a Washington team that won a playoff game. Much of his success came on losing teams.
As far as what Washington's new name should be, Moss said "that's not my place." He admitted that he was "heartbroken" at first because of what 'Redskins' stood for him. But, he also fully understands the reasoning for the change, saying "we've got to do what's right."
With a new era of Washington football on the horizon, the organization would like the leave many of the struggles over the past 25-plus years -- both on and off the field -- in the rearview mirror. Moss believes that until the team puts a winning product on the field, it will be hard for many to view the organization differently from what's been the case the past few decades.
"Moving forward, [we need to put] guys in the right place [that are] going to go out there and get the right players in-house and develop these guys to be the potential Joe Theismanns, Gary Clarks or whoever it is, to have a chance to win the Super Bowl," Moss said. "That's when we're going to start seeing some success. But until we do that, we're going to keep hearing 'it seems like it's the old Redskins' [referring to] my era Redskins when we had so many guys in-house but we didn't go out there and put a winning product out on a consistent basis."
Theismann, who led Washington to a Super Bowl victory in 1982, has experienced first-hand what it's like to be part of a successful football team in the nation's capital. He agrees with Moss that if the product on the field improves, fans will support the team regardless of what the new name ends up being.
"There'll also be people that will say, 'You know what? It's time. This is what we're going to be. Let's get behind it.' There are people who are loyal fans of Washington football who are going to be fans of Washington football, irrespective of what we're called," Theismann said. "Those are the fans that are going to say, you know, 'let's not knock it until we see what it looks like.' A lot of people haven't shown up lately over the last couple of years because they're dissatisfied with the product. You make the product, you build it, they will come. I still believe that."
Throughout the past year and a half, there has been momentum at times that Washington's temporary name as the 'Football Team' could stick permanently. Of course, that has now been ruled out, with Washington set to have its grand name reveal on Feb. 2.
Theismann, who agreed with Moss that the name change was necessary, is thrilled with the idea that the WFT era will no longer exist in just a handful of days.
"I'm glad we're not going to be the Washington Football Team," Theismann said. "It's so generic in its nature, and it just sort of leaves you hanging. 'OK, fine. So what?' Whatever the name is going to be, I think people will get behind it."
While Theismann is confident that fans will rally around the new name, he also echoed Moss' statement that the team must hold up to its side of the change and put together a winning team for the fans to support.
"The franchise, it has to do its part on the field for everybody to embrace a name change. Everybody wants to get excited about this football team," Theismann said. "Maybe you bring in a young new quarterback. Maybe you trade for someone. I don't know what that's going to look like. But I will say this, that if you win and you get people excited again, it won't matter what we're called."
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback understands that once the name is revealed, there will be a portion of fans that don't like the name. There's no name that will please everyone, or else the franchise would have selected it.
However, what Theismann is asking from the fan base is patience with the name. Even if fans don't like the name at first, the former quarterback wants them to give it a chance to grow on them.
"The organization and everybody around it has done a heck of a job bringing us to a point where we are going to have a new identity," he said. "I think it's important for people to take time to absorb it. Don't make a quick decision, say, 'I like it, I don't like it.' They could chance to roll it around in your mouth. Hum tunes if you want. Just give it some time to be able to settle in."
"Like I said, we start winning, it's going to feel a lot more comfortable than if we don't," Theismann said.