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Why Lorenzo Alexander didn't speak up on Redskins' name when he was playing

Why Lorenzo Alexander didn't speak up on Redskins' name when he was playing

For the first six seasons of his NFL career, Lorenzo Alexander sported the Burgundy and Gold every Sunday. Alexander was one of the Redskins' best special teamers during his tenure in Washington and even earned a Pro Bowl nod in his final season with the team.

However, throughout his six seasons with Washington, the defensive lineman-linebacker hybrid never raised concern about the Redskins' name. Now, that has changed.

In an interview with 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday, Alexander explained his current stance on the team's name, as well as why he never chose to speak up on the issue when he was a player for Washington.

"What I'm about to say, obviously the name should be changed," Alexander said. "But I can be seen as hypocritical because I played for the team and never really said much of it."

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Over the past week, the Redskins have been publicly pressured by some of its largest corporate sponsors to change the name. In response, the team announced on Friday it was undergoing a review of the name, and a change appears to be on the horizon. 

For Alexander, it took time to be away from the team to truly understand the meaning behind the name Redskins. Now, more than ever before, he understands why the name may need to be a thing of the past.

"I think once you kind of step away from it and kind of analyze what the word means and the progression of it – because it wasn't always a derogatory name, but at some point, it got attached to killing of Native Americans," Alexander said. "There's obviously a group in the Native American community that feels that it is derogatory, and they've always shown up and always protested, even while I was there, as far as getting the name changed."

With the social justice movement and fight for racial equality in America in full effect following the killing of George Floyd, Alexander believes that it would have been "hypocritical" for him not to advocate for a name change.

"I think we can no longer kind of stand behind ignorance or the fact that it doesn't really impact me," Alexander said. "So as a black man in the community, [it] would be very hypocritical for me to say, 'No, I love the name! It doesn't impact me!' when my community is kind of in an uproar right now speaking out on the same thing to the white community as far as some of the things that we see and how our lives are impacted."

RELATED: NEW REDSKINS NAME WILL NOT CONTAIN NATIVE AMERICAN IMAGERY, PER REPORT

During the interview, Alexander repeatedly emphasized how important it is for people with a powerful voice to speak up about societal issues, as that is one of the best ways to create a meaningful change.

Alexander commended FedEx being the first Redskins' sponsor to publicly call for a change, even with the company having such a lucrative partnership with the team. Additionally, Alexander mentioned that he doesn't think the movement to change the name would be so strong had the company not publicly raised concern about it.

"Some are bigger than others and that's why it takes all of us to create change because if FedEx didn't jump on board, this probably wouldn't have got done," Alexander said. "And so by them including themselves in the conversation and for change, it allowed for change to occur, and that's why I think everybody's responsible for the direction of our country as we move forward."

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Making a case for Warriors as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Warriors as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Red Hogs.

Case for: Washington Warriors

When it comes to the Washington Football Team, developing a new brand has as much to do with separating itself from the previous identity as it does creating a new one.

While the team’s previous moniker provided a sense of pride and joy to some people, it was considered derogatory by others. Those offended by the name had expressed resentment for decades before the team finally decided to take action this summer. But the team only did so after its bottomline was at risk of taking a hit by corporate sponsors threatening to end their relationships with the team.

If Washington wants people to take its rebrand seriously and view it as more than a money-saving play, the team will need to completely distance itself from Native American imagery. That being considered, is Warriors a good choice as the replacement name? It depends, says Tim Derdenger, associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.

“It depends on which direction you go with it,” Derdenger said. “I’ve read things that they want to keep the feather and go in that direction as opposed to a military warrior, more of the Indian warrior. And if they do it the latter, they’re completely missing the mark on why they’re changing their name.”

CONCEPTS: TOP 5 NEW FAN-GENERATED WASHINGTON WARRIORS LOGOS

This conundrum highlights the different things that have to be considered when undergoing a name change. It isn’t just the name; it’s also the logo, the branding on team gear and uniforms, the stadium atmosphere, the fan experience, and so much more. If the team was able to rebrand itself as the Warriors without singling out a specific race or group of people, the name could work. The Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association have a great brand and don’t use human imagery at all, going with the Bay Bridge as their primary logo.

Matt White, president of WHITE64, pointed to Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder's background in advertising and branding as a reason he thinks the team could pull it off.

“I think what you have to do is, do it in a thoughtful, logical manner, where you’re hiring a firm, which he has relationships with that can really do a great job,” White said.

The option for thoughtful branding exists in a way for "Warriors" that it doesn’t for a name like "Braves." Some fans had tossed around the latter as an option because of its history as the Washington franchise’s original name for one season in 1932, when the team was still located in Boston. But that’s a piece of history most fans likely forgot, if they ever knew it. And a Brave, by definition, is specifically a Native American warrior. The name doesn’t allow for a change in branding the same way Warriors does.

“The Cleveland Indians are already being asked to change their name. The Atlanta Braves apparently are even being looked at with that,” White said. “And again, there’s gotta be a solution that doesn’t offend somebody but that can still capture the spirit.”

CONCEPTS: TOP 5 NEW FAN-GENERATED WASHINGTON WARRIORS UNIFORM DESIGNS

That's where Warriors could be used, like Braves, to appease the base of fans who never wanted to part with the old moniker. However, Brad Nierenberg, the CEO of RedPeg Marketing, thinks choosing that name is also a choice to please those particular fans over the people who want to see a clean break. 

“If you’re gonna stay close with the Redskins, I think you’re gonna be staying with a fan base that ... you’re gonna placate the challenge to changing the name, then the Warriors and Braves are gonna be that next step,” Nierenberg said.

“I think there’s gonna be people saying they didn’t go far enough. That’s my gut.”

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This is where everything else that accompanies the name change becomes so vital. Because while it’s likely true everyone won’t be happy with Warriors, it’s possible to win over a few more people with the proper branding and imagery.

"The logo is then going to be the key part,” Derdenger said. “And what that logo will look like and how it connects back to the military warrior.

“I can’t right now see in my head what a Warriors logo looks like. ... But they have to go away from the connection to the Native Americans.”

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Burning questions: Who will break out for the Washington Football Team in 2020?

Burning questions: Who will break out for the Washington Football Team in 2020?

As training camp continues to pick up, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will come up with, and then respond to, some burning questions facing the 2020 Washington Football Team.

To start, they each answer the following: Who will be a breakout player in Burgundy and Gold?

JP's choice: Daron Payne

I’m not sure a former first-round pick counts as a breakout player but I think Daron Payne is poised to have a monster season. He has wild strength in his hands at the point of attack, to the point I remember one AFC scout telling me he was the strongest player in the 2018 draft.

Payne has played well, but not great, through two years in the NFL. In those two seasons, he has seven sacks and nine tackles for loss. Honestly. I think he should get to those totals in this year alone.

Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio pride themselves on preaching an aggressive philosophy, particularly up front. The plan is to defend the run on their way to the quarterback. 

There is nobody on this roster that shapes up better for that approach than Daron Payne. Add in the presence of Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat (and the attention those guys will attract) and you'll realize why you should prepare yourself for a big, big year from D-Payne. 

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Pete's choice: Antonio Gibson

I wanted to put Steven Sims here. I also wanted to put Antonio Gandy-Golden here. But in the end, I put Antonio Gibson here. And I feel really good about that, too.

Sure, I'm a bit concerned about Gibson having to split time between running back and receiver. RBs coach Randy Jordan recently told the media that in his meetings, he's having to remind Gibson to focus on his duties in the backfield instead of on the outside. Jordan said it while laughing, but I do think there is something to the third-rounder perhaps being stretched too thin as a rookie.

Then I remember that Gibson scored 12 touchdowns on 71 offensive touches last year for Memphis.

That leads me to remember that Washington, who had the only offense IN THE LEAGUE last year to average FEWER THAN 17 POINTS A GAME, is going to need someone like Gibson to spark drives.

Then I also remember that Ron Rivera and Scott Turner are now in charge of this side of the ball, and they loved using Christian McCaffrey in Carolina, and they're going to need someone dynamic to replace Christian McCaffrey in Washington.

Then I also also remember how unproven the majority of the receivers are on this roster, which means Gibson could see a lot of targets regardless of where he lines up.

Right now, Gibson is someone who's a bit of a mystery, even to Washington fans. Come December, though, that mystery will disappear and give way to a whole bunch of production.

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