NFC East

Washington Redskins retire name and logo; trademark issue could delay name announcement

Years of controversy surrounding the Redskins’ name, logo, and the underlying racial undertones of both seem to be coming to a head. In a statement by the team on Monday the retiring of the name and logo for the 2020 season and onward was announced. According to the team’s statement on Monday no replacement name or logo design has been decided upon as of yet: “Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors for the next 100 years.”

Thus the moniker which has lasted for 87 years and one of the most recognizable logos in American professional sports are no more. The move comes after recent movement from minority shareholders in their attempts to sell stock in the franchise; seeing the social backlash of the name becoming more and more apparent. Owner Dan Snyder, who once famously said he would not change the name, has done so in response to intense financial pressure.

The next move for the franchise should be obvious: move quickly to choose a new name and logo to begin what should be a laborious rebranding effort. Unfortunately for Dan Snyder and others in the organization, the new name selection could prove to be be a legal minefield.

According to reports, and most damning of all the US Patents and Trademark Database, realtor Phillip Martin McAuley from Alexandria, VA has trademarked nearly a dozen possible names the franchise was expected to use as a replacement. Some of those names include: “Redtails”, “Red Wolves”, “War Hogs”, “Tribe”, as well as “Radskins.”

The importance of this unforeseen development is the delay of that official name announcement from the Washington brass; a delay that would greatly impact sponsors, merchandising opportunities, as well as fan’s enthusiasm. The reality of the situation is that Snyder will need to make a handsome payment to the opportunistic realtor if one of those names is to be chosen.

While McAuley hedged his bets on some of the more popular name choices floating around the forums (namely “Redtails” and “War Hogs”), he forgot to include “Warriors”.

Such an omission is interesting as it may very well be the most prudent choice by the organization in the end. By going forward with a name such as the “Warriors” the organization can mitigate financial uncertainty and backlash among fans. In terms of design the embodiment of a warrior, a spear, or something of equal symbolic value can take the place of the now retired logo. A minimalistic approach would suggest a ‘W’ replacing the ‘R’ in the team’s alternate logo. The importance of this change is to preserve the finer qualities of the NFL’s Washington team without wholly sacrificing the brand recognition. Honestly, I hope they don’t think too hard about this one.

As previously mentioned a rebranding effort is anything but easy, taking months to fully come to fruition. In this particularly odd and time-sensitive situation, Washington needs to pick the path of least resistance and choose the “Warriors” or something equally as innocuous. Without having to give McAuley a payday, the organization can choose a name that can continue to embody a franchise steeped in tradition and supported by some of the NFL’s most loyal fans without the fear of alienating of them. Also, did I mention the opportunity for alliteration? The “Washington Warriors” has a nice ring to it.

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