After the Washington Redskins moniker was retired on July 13, owner Dan Snyder and company have searched for a new name regarding the Washington, D.C.-based NFL franchise.
However, the new name was not what most expected to receive. Moving into the 2020-2021 NFL regular season, the franchise will be known as the Washington Football team.
The decision was announced on July 23 and received strong reactions from the sports world for the unconventional name choice.
“Who you play for? The Washington football team . . . naw that ain’t it,” said former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant in a Twitter statement. “For some reason that alone makes me feel it won’t be a football season. I’m sad seriously.”
Even Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James couldn’t contain himself after hearing the new name.
“Just waking back up from my pregame nap to see about The Washington Football team???” James said on social media. “Is that real?? No way! Oh man they had a thorough intense long board meeting about that one huh.”
In a statement from the team, Washington outlined that the decision to use the “Washington Football Team” name this season will allow the franchise to undertake an in-depth branding process to include player, alumni, fan, and community accurately with sponsor input. It is essentially a placeholder name for the time being.
“To date, we have been pleased to see so many people putting forward their vision of what the new name and design should be on their social media channels, and we look forward to including their feedback as this process progresses,” Washington said in a statement.
Starting tomorrow and over the next 50 days, we will begin the process of retiring all Redskins branding from team properties, whether it be FedEx Field, Redskins Park, other physical and digital spaces. We hope to complete this process in full by the team’s home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 13.”
Though the name change has dominated the headlines over the past few weeks, the Washington Football Team is looking ahead as we inch closer to the regular season.
The quarterback room will welcome a familiar face as quarterback Alex Smith has been cleared by personal doctors to play this season after suffering a gruesome leg injury that almost cost him his life.
Smith took a massive hit from J.J. Watt and Kareem Jackson during a match against the Houston Texans on Nov. 18, 2018. Smith dealt with complications after surgery, but the 36-year-old bounced back and rehabbed since then.
“The thing that jumps right out at me is urgency to learn,” said Washington Football Team quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese about Smith.”
“There is nothing about him that says, ‘I already got this, I know this, I did it like this before.’ It is, ‘How are we doing it here in Washington? How do you want me to do it? These are the things and experiences that I have had.’”
When asked how Smith will be utilized, Zampese expressed concern about the former pro bowler without seeing him perform in practice.
“Well, physically, the first thing we have to find out is if he can protect himself and we’ll figure that out as we go and as he passes the certain criteria to get to the next level of getting himself back to the field,” Zampese said.
We will figure those things out as we go, and when it gets to the point where he gets to practice, we will find out. You don’t lose the experience that you have playing the position. Some of those things will be like riding a bike and others won’t be. We will jump through all those hoops when the time comes. I am really excited about that.”
Another player coming back from injury is former Stanford standout running back Bryce Love. Washington selected Love with the No. 112 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he was on the injured reserve list last season.
During his tenure at Stanford, the 5-foot-9, 200-pound playmaker was a First Team All-American and enjoyed a spectacular junior season rushing for more than 2,000 yards. If healthy, this could be a breakout year for Love.
“I think the biggest thing is when you look at Bryce, he had a phenomenal career at Stanford, Washington Football Team running backs coach Randy Jordan said. “I have known Bryce for a long time. I actually recruited him when I was at the University of North Carolina. He has some of the same tools as his Stanford teammate, [Christian] McCaffery.
For him, it is just having confidence. Making that cut and getting hit. That is the thing with not having any preseason games. It hurts him as a player because he has not played. All the practices that we have lined up, we will get a clean evaluation of him. We are excited to have him back.”