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Washington's new NFL name more for future D.C. football fans than current ones

Washington's new NFL name more for future D.C. football fans than current ones

As Washington weighs its options for a replacement of ‘Redskins’ as the team name, there are several factors the team has to consider.

The most pressing issue is to please the sponsors who put pressure on the team to change the name in the first place, in turn appeasing the people offended by the current name. In doing so, the team also stands to gain new fans. But in deciding to adopt a new moniker, Washington may cause resentment in current fans, many of whom have supported for decades and don’t want the name to change at all.

Those fans likely feel a sense of abandonment, as if the team is choosing money and a different set of consumers over them. And the hard truth is that they’re probably right. According to Whitney Wagoner, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at University of Oregon, the direction Washington chooses may very well come down to what pleases fans of the future.


“My view is that this is about the future fan base, and this is about future audiences,” said Wagoner, who spent seven years in different corporate marketing positions with the NFL. “I think there’s no doubt that the current fans don’t want it to be changed, but if I’m running a business, I need to understand where my consumer base for the next 40 years is gonna fall on this question. And that’s where I would make my decision.”

Looking at current consumers in contrast to those of the past could give some insight into what Washington needs its brand to represent going forward. Even before recent protests for social justice, it was clear that people care more about the core values of the businesses they support than people did in the past. Now, it’s even more apparent.

“Any business person has to play the long game. And the way that young consumers of any product in this country are behaving, they expect that companies they spend their money with have the kinds of values and beliefs that align with their personal values,” Wagoner said. “I spend all day every day with 20-year-old kids on a college campus, and they absolutely want to know what are the corporate values of these companies I’m giving my money to? If that company doesn’t align with their personal values, they are straight up not gonna spend with that company. And that’s not how it’s always been.”


For some, Washington’s name and logo have been a reflection of poor company values, no matter what the team may or may not have been doing behind the scenes. Many people view ‘Redskin’ as derogatory towards Native Americans, and team owner Dan Snyder’s resistance to changing the name further cemented a negative view of those values. It took for investors to approach team sponsors like FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo, and those sponsors to put pressure on the team, for change to begin. And now, not even two weeks later, the team is expected to change its name in the coming days, according to a report.

“And so that’s the future of consumerism in this country, period, for Coca-Cola, for Nike, for Federal Express, for the National Football League, for anybody,” Wagoner said. “And so in my view, you have to play the long game, and if that means that in the short term you have a few thousand season-ticket holders for professional football in Washington say they’re not gonna renew, OK. OK. Because I am worried about who’s gonna be in my building for the next 40 years, and those people really care about this question.”

If Washington, with its new brand, wants to convince young and future consumers that its values are more aligned with their own than previously thought, the team may look to distance itself as far as possible from the current Redskins name and imagery. But Snyder’s defiance in the past could paint the move as a money-saving, public relations stunt. That’s where the team may look for a compromise to placate current fans.


It's been reported that the new look won't have Native American imagery, but the burgundy and gold color scheme will remain. Creating new fans, while not completely turning off its current base is the conundrum Washington is faced with. 

In developing an image, Wagoner said the general rule of thumb for a sports franchise is to tap into elements of a city or region that are relevant with how the people in that area identify themselves. Still, she is convinced Washington’s best plan of attack is to do so with an eye on the future.

“The tricky part is you want to distance yourself from elements that are painful and negative, while embracing the things that are positive and good, with a wholly forward-looking lens. And there’s no doubt that’s difficult,” Wagoner said. “But people have done it, and with all due respect to whatever the current fanbase feels and thinks, any business person will tell you -- especially given the average age and demography of the National Football League fan base -- they’ve gotta make a decision from what is healthy 40 years from now. And that’s not gonna be the answer that the current fans want, but that’s how that is.”

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Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

A news storm ensued after Derrius Guice was arrested on domestic violence charges and subsequently released by the Washington Football Team. Seemingly lost in the shuffle was some news about yet another knee injury for the third-year running back. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Guice hurt his knee again the day before he was released.

This would have been huge news for the former second-round pick, who's grappled with knee injuries throughout the first two seasons of his career. He suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, a meniscus tear at the beginning of last season and an MCL sprain later on in 2019 as well.

There was hope for Guice to become a featured back, and he certainly had the ability to become one had he been able to stay healthy. 


It's unclear how much another knee injury had to do with Guice's release, though it certainly couldn't have made things easier on Guice's hopes to stay on the roster. He later went unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent for the first time in his young career.

Washington doesn't have much time to worry about Guice now. They have to figure out how to distribute the carries between Adrian Peterson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love without a preseason schedule to test things out.

With their first taste of game action this season set as a September 13 clash with the Eagles, Peterson figures to start off as the lead back behind Dwayne Haskins based on experience alone. Peterson has over 3,000 career carries under his belt while the other four options have combined for 639.

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Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Training camp should be a major opportunity for Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins to get a lot of work with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and the new playbook, but if Alex Smith is healthy, the reps for Haskins might shrink.

"The biggest thing we’ve got to do is not make sure we’re divvying up the reps as evenly as possible, but we divvy up who they work against. This could be a very interesting challenge for us because of QB Alex Smith. If Alex is healthy and continues to get healthy and we do activate him, he’s going to be in the throes of this competition," head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday. 

The Washington Football Team drafted Haskins 15th overall last year, only after Smith suffered a broken leg in November 2018. Rivera wasn't around for either of the decisions to draft Haskins or trade for Smith, but now the new coach gets to try and solve the QB riddle in Washington. 

Haskins struggled as a rookie in part because he didn't get much practice work with the first team offense. It was obvious how little Haskins knew of the offense and his offensive teammates when he first got on the field in Week 4 last year. Some of that might have been self-inflicted, regardless, Haskins needed the work. 

Now in his second season, Haskins got exactly zero team drills in this offseason due to Coronavirus. None. 

So, with what should be the most important training camp of his young professional career, Haskins again might face another hurdle in the return of Smith. 

Smith deserves tremendous accolades for his recovery after 17 surgeries and intense infection in his leg. But is Smith getting back on the field the best thing for a young Washington team trying to rebuild?

Haskins is 23. Smith is 36.


Haskins has tremendous potential, Smith has already proven he can produce.

Haskins has started seven NFL games. Smith has started seven NFL playoff games. 

Considering all of that, Haskins should get the most work of any Washington passer.

Take note that Rivera didn't say the reps needed to be equitable, but rather the level of competition. Haskins needs more reps than Smith or Kyle Allen.


Smith has been in the NFL since he was drafted first overall in 2005. Allen started 13 games for Rivera and Turner in the last two seasons. Haskins hasn't even been through a padded practice with Rivera and Turner. 

It makes total sense to get Allen reps against the first-team defense. He needs to be prepared. And should Smith get medically cleared to be back on the field against a defense, he should get some of those reps too. Washington needs to see what Smith has left if he actually gets cleared for football.

Still, Haskins should get the majority of that work. He needs it, and Rivera needs to see what he has in the former Ohio State star. 

Smith's recovery is an incredible story, but Rivera's plan in Washington is a long-term rebuild to put together a consistent playoff team. That means getting Haskins on the field as much as possible. 

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