Tomorrow marks a year since the Washington Football Team changed its name to the current, generic title. The franchise is still considering other full-time replacement names, though one has been ruled out.
In his latest “President’s Brief” on the team’s website, Jason Wright has ruled out “Warriors” as a name option. While Warriors is used elsewhere, most notably by the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and is not nearly as controversial as Washington’s previous name, it does have a Native American connotation.
It is pretty understandable that Wright and the franchise have decided that they need a clean break from any Native American iconography, to fully move past the team’s former identity. He acknowledges that many fans will be upset by this, but he believes this is necessary step forward, especially after engaging the Native American community in these discussions.
“This engagement demonstrated to us a consensus that moving forward with no ties to Native American imagery is the right path,” Wright says. “I am personally and deeply grateful for the Native American community leaders who engaged with us, sharing painful, raw and real stories that persist to this day. Their stories affirmed our decision to move in a new direction in the creation of our new name and identity, and we are proudly forging ahead in this journey with a promise to our community — a promise to continue to be inclusive in our process and collaborative with our fans.”
Washington team president Jason Wright makes it clear that with the team name, the franchise thinks “moving forward with no ties to Native American imagery is the right path.” Yes, that includes Warriors.https://t.co/0gwwa9MrPT
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) July 12, 2021
From there, Wright specifically acknowledges “Warriors,” which has been a popular option for some, both because it may allow for some of the previous imagery to remain, and for the alliteration with that potential name. He is flatly ruling it out at this point.
In the spirit of that engagement, I want to address a name that has emerged amongst our fanbase, “Warriors.” One might look at this name as a natural, and even harmless transition considering that it does not necessarily or specifically carry a negative connotation. But as we learned through our research and engagement with various groups, “context matters” and that makes it a “slippery slope.” Feedback from across communities we engaged clearly revealed deep-seated discomfort around Warriors, with the clear acknowledgment that it too closely aligns with Native American themes. Such an embrace of potentially Native-adjacent iconography and imagery would not represent a clear departure that many communities have so forcefully advocated for us to embrace, and that frankly, we set out to do when we started this process a year ago.
We have 89 years of history in this league and failing to acknowledge our past use of Native imagery in the consideration of the new name wouldn’t be mindful of the individuals and communities that were hurt by the previous name. We’ve made significant changes in our organization and our culture, and our new name must reflect these changes. To that end, we will choose an identity that unequivocally departs from any use of or approximate linkage to Native American imagery.
I know this may be disappointing for some folks. But as I have said many times before, our new identity should unite us. It should bring us together the way this team comes together on the football field and the way we have seen our Fans come together and proudly support our Team and our DMV community.
Wright says the team has worked its way down to a “short list of final names.” He previously said that the permanent name will be rolled out in time for the 2022 NFL season. This year will be the franchise’s second as the Washington Football Team.
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