While the Washington Football Team is still several months from revealing its new nickname and logo, team president Jason Wright announced on Monday the franchise has removed Warriors from consideration because it “too closely aligns with Native American themes.”
Washington has gone by its current moniker since last summer when it ditched the controversial Redskins nickname under pressure from sponsors and nationwide protests against racial inequality.
“We recognize that not everyone is in favor of this change. And even the Native American community offers a range of opinions about both our past and path forward,” Wright said in his weekly blog post on Washington’s official website. “But in these moments, it is important to prioritize the views of those who have been hurt by our historical use of Native American language, iconography and imagery.”
“Let me also be clear: moving on from the old moniker does not invalidate the poignant memories so many of you had with loved ones watching your football heroes in burgundy and gold. Those are moments to cherish, and we need your help to ensure we preserve those memories under a new banner that should bring even more fans into the Washington family.
“With this in mind, we made it a priority to run an inclusive process to listen to all voices. We have given particular emphasis to engaging, listening and learning from Native American leaders and individuals throughout the country. This process has exposed to us the very deeply-held personal feelings about our previous imagery and association – and not just the simple, easy-to-categorize ‘who’s for or who’s against’ polling of our old name, but research revealing the psychological effects of Native American team names on American Indian and Alaska Native youth.
“In sum, this engagement demonstrated to us a consensus that moving forward with no ties to Native American imagery is the right path. 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.”
Wright acknowledged that Warriors had emerged as fan-favorite option since it doesn’t carry the same negative connotation as the previous nickname, but also noted that engagement groups revealed discomfort with retaining any 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,” Wright said. “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.”
With that, Washington has cut down the thousands of fan-suggested nicknames to a short list of options. The plan is to reveal the new name and logo before the start of the 2022 season, though the current burgundy and gold color scheme is expected to remain in place.
“As a team, we are confident that our new brand identity will honor our legacy and lead us into our future as a franchise,” Wright said.
Photo courtesy of @WashingtonNFL on Twitter.