Over the next few days, and in the spirit of a Presidential election year, NBC Sports Washington is polling ex-Redskins players and NFLers who grew up in the DMV for their thoughts on the burgundy-and-gold's pending name change - and what name THEY would like to see.
As the football world awaits the start of training camp later this month, nobody is seemingly talking about anything but the Redskins' name change or Pat Mahomes' recent record-breaking contract extension.
While the anticipation surrounding a name change serves as a distraction from quarantine and the excitement around basketball, baseball and hockey's return, once the 2020 NFL season starts, it won't be as productive a conversation for the players inside Washington's locker room.
Former Maryland star D'Qwell Jackson, Pro Bowl linebacker for the Colts and Browns, spoke to NBC Sports Washington about the challenges players will face if the team's name situation isn't resolved before they return to the field.
"Being in those locker rooms and being a head coach, if this isn't resolved before the season you better believe every beat writer, every reporter that walks in that building, they're gonna talk about this name issue as opposed to players focusing on what they need to focus on, and that's winning football games," Jackson said. "You don't want to create more noise and stress to an already hard problem to solve in winning a Super Bowl, and in their case trying to get to the playoffs and being better than they were the past few years."
A new era of Washington football began this offseason after the team hired Ron Rivera as their head coach and their decision to take Chase Young No. 2 overall, solidifying Dwayne Haskins as the starting quarterback going into 2020. With an incredibly talented defensive line and an injection of life into the franchise with Rivera, you'd hate to lose that momentum because of a prolonged name-change saga.
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As Jackson points out, Rivera most likely realizes the importance of reducing distractions as much as possible and its owner Dan Snyder's job to make sure his coach is in the best position to succeed.
"I'm sure this is a very important moment for [Rivera] and quite frankly to get the voice of his team. He hasn't coached one practice yet," Jackson said. "For a guy that probably is more emotionally attached to this than most people and he's in a position of power, a position that has an ear to owner, if I'm Dan Snyder I gotta do right by him. You want to start on a positive note and this is one thing that could uplift your team, head coach and your community then why not [change the name]? It's only going to help your bottom dollar, which is ultimately what these owners were afraid of."
For a guy who played four years of college football in College Park and still has family residing in the DMV, Jackson was just waiting for the day to come when Washington finally considered a name change.
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"My initial reaction was, 'It's about damn time,'" Jackson said. "I think it's a great thing, I think it's a movement that Snyder was going to have to face the music at some point. I think he's feeling real pressure every day that the name isn't changed. He's feeling enormous amounts of pressure and that really starts with shareholders and sponsorships pulling out their money."
For years, his family has stayed away calling Washington's football team the Redskins because of the name's derogatory nature. Instead, they just referred to the team as the 'Skins, which so happens to be one of the popular fan suggestions for the team's new name.
However, of all the options out there, Jackson's favorite is Fred Smoot's Red Wolves idea, in which the former Redskins corner imagines a sold-out stadium howling in support of their team.
"I may have to side with Smoot because he has a good point, you'd have the whole stadium howling," Jackson said. "That's something that gives you that college atmosphere. When you talk about the fans getting involved it's like Pittsburgh with the 'Terrible Towels.' That's actually really good."
It's hard to think of a better way to get DC football fans into a new team than a rabid tradition at games.
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