- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Washington Redskins will go by “Washington Football Team” in 2020 as the franchise searches for a new name in the long term. The temporary name will effectively retire the team’s use of “Redskins,” which Washington announced it would do earlier this month following the conclusion of an ongoing review.

The Washington Football Team will keep its burgundy and gold color scheme, but feature altered uniforms next season. The Redskins’ logo on the team’s helmet, for instance, will be replaced by a player’s number in gold. And the team will just use “Washington” on its nameplate instead of “Redskins.”

In a statement, Washington said it plans for “Redskins” to be officially retired by the team’s season opener on Sept. 13. The change will be for at least for the rest of 2020, a league source said.

In a statement, the team said using a temporary name gives the franchise further time to determine a new name and solicit feedback from fans as it looks to rebrand.

Over the next 50 days, Washington said it will begin “the process of retiring all Redskins branding from team properties whether it be FedExField, Redskins Park, other physical and digital spaces.”

Washington chief marketing officer Terry Bateman, a longtime adviser to owner Dan Snyder who will help oversee the rebranding process, told The Washington Times that it was “pretty obvious from the beginning” that the team would adopt a temporary name until a new one is decided upon.

He said the decision was reached a few weeks ago.

“Rebranding anything is a complex and time-consuming process if it’s done properly,” Bateman said. “It typically should take 12 to 18 months to really go through a thoughtful process and to do it right and prepare it appropriately and get the proper input and so on. And we wanted to take a deep breath, step back and really think this through, and really be inclusive, really be thorough and come out on the other side of this feeling like we’ve got the right solution for everybody.

“That’s just going to take some time and effort.”

Despite the 12-to-18-month span that Bateman threw out, the executive said there is no timeline for Washington to complete its rebrand. He said the franchise plans to have fan input on the next name, though did not share details on how.

Washington first announced the retirement of “Redskins” on July 13, but a person with knowledge of the situation said the team would still be the Redskins until a temporary or new name was decided upon. Since then, the team had stopped using the moniker in press releases — only referring to itself as “Washington.”

Washington’s temporary name also comes during a hectic time for the franchise. Last week, 15 former female employees and two journalists accused five former high-ranking team officials of sexual harassment — leading to Snyder hiring an outside law firm to investigate the allegations.

Minority owners Fred Smith, Robert Rothman and Dwight Schar have also hired an investment banking firm as it looks to sell its shares in the franchise, believed to be 40%.

For Thursday’s announcement, Washington unveiled mocked-up images of players like quarterback Dwayne Haskins and defensive end Ryan Kerrigan in the new uniforms. The team also changed its Twitter handle from “@Redskins” to “@WashingtonNFL,” switching its profile photo to a gold “W” with a burgundy background.

As part of the unveiling, multiple players chimed in on social media about the new look.

“Glad to be apart of the movement to a new legacy with Washington,” safety Landon Collins wrote. “#ripredskins … now to what the future holds #hail #believe new name coming soon but the name don’t make the team #Redskinsforlife”

“Excited to be apart of a new era!” rookie defensive end Chase Young wrote. Others weren’t as sold on the change.

NBA star LeBron James, a noted Dallas Cowboys fan, tweeted six laughing emojis and wrote: Just waking back up from my pregame nap to see about The Washington Football team??? Is that real?? No way! Oh man they had a thorough intense long board meeting about that one huh.”

Former quarterback Mark Rypien took issue with the team’s new temporary logo, an image containing the words “Washington Football Team, Est. 1932” in gold lettering.

“Why not change the established date to 2020?” Rypien tweeted. “I never played a down for the Washington Football Team, but I did play with dignity, honor and pride for the Three Time World Champion Washington Redskins.”

Rypien’s tweet is part of the divide over the franchise abandoning the Redskins moniker, adopted in 1933 after founding owner George Preston Marshall renamed the team from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins. Some have been overjoyed that the team will no longer use the term many consider racist.

Other diehard fans and some alumni like Rypien and kicker Mark Moseley have come out against it.

In 2013, Snyder vowed Washington would “never” change the name. But the team backtracked this month amid pressure from activists and corporate sponsors during the national reckoning over race-related issues following George Floyd’s death.

FedEx, the team’s naming rights partner, officially asked Washington to change its name, and online retailers such as Nike, Target, Amazon and Walmart said they would stop selling team gear featuring the name “Redskins.”

Washington said Thursday that fans will be able to purchase “Washington Football Team” merchandise in the coming days. A Target spokesman told The Washington Times that the company plans on selling “Washington Football Team” gear in the next few weeks.

As for getting rid of “Redskins” by the start of the season, Bateman said Washington has its work cut out for it.

The process entails everything from changing every digital reference mentioning the Redskins to removing hard signage containing the team name.

“It’s truly a tremendous amount of work,” Bateman said, “so that’s going to be our first focus.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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