- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2020

LANDOVER — The American Indian logo at midfield is gone. So are the giant burgundy letters that once spelled out “REDSKINS” across each end zone. The banner proclaiming the stadium the “Home of the Redskins” has been taken down.

A lot has changed at FedEx Field. But look closely and it’s not hard to find remnants of the past. Deleting decades of history, it turns out, isn’t easy.

More than a month has passed since the Washington Football Team, under mounting pressure from its corporate partners, abandoned a name that, though revered by longtime fans, had become a target for activists.

When players and coaches returned to FedEx Field last week to practice in their home stadium for the first time since the change, it was evident how far the rebranding had come — and how much work lies ahead.

Reminders of the history the organization has been forced to purge are everywhere: The franchise’s iconic American Indian logo is still stamped onto the metal of thousands of FedEx stadium seats, but the once-bright burgundy and gold emblems are scraped and faded.

Painted versions of the old logo pop up on walkaways and places you might least expect, such as a patch of grass outside.

Signage for the Redskins Hall of Fame Store as of last week was unchanged, and a burgundy wall featuring bios and photos of the team’s all-time greats still stood nearby — though George Preston Marshall, the team’s founder and a segregationist, is now notably absent. Washington disassociated from him this spring.

With just days left before Washington’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, traces to the franchise’s 87 years in the NFL are evident in the stadium in Landover, at the team’s Virginia headquarters in Ashburn and in the everyday conversations of players, team officials and reporters.

But bit by bit, that’s changing.

“I can’t really put my finger on it, but it’s cool,” safety Landon Collins said last month. “Just a new era, I’d say.”

At the team headquarters in Ashburn, Washington has made more progress in moving on from the old symbols. The giant Redskins flag no longer flaps from the parking lot. The team’s entrance sign outside its security gate was altered to remove the logo and name.

Even in Ashburn, though, the past is hard to shake. The old logo is etched on trash cans near the practice fields.

The changes have meant adjustments for all. Guard Brandon Scherff declared last month, twice, that he wanted to retire “a Redskin” — until he caught himself midway through the second reference. Sports radio hosts and reporters make similar mistakes.

Chief Marketing Officer Terry Bateman, who was hired to help oversee the name change, acknowledged in July that the process would take time. Mr. Bateman, a longtime friend and adviser to owner Dan Snyder, said all signage and digital references to the moniker would have to be scrubbed.

Indeed, even things that might not have appeared obvious have changed or are in the process of changing. Employees have had their emails changed from “@redskins.com” to “@washingtonfootball.com.” Social media accounts have been rebranded.

Washington announced last week that two main roads near their stadium and practice facility would be renamed for team legends Sean Taylor and Joe Gibbs. In Ashburn, the road leading to the team’s headquarters will be renamed Coach Gibbs Drive — replacing Redskins Park Drive. In Landover, Redskins Road will be changed to Sean Taylor Road in memory of the safety who was killed in 2007.

Wide receiver Terry McLaurin said the transition would have been tougher if Washington had not retained its traditional burgundy-and-gold color scheme. The players’ new uniforms, at first glance, don’t look much different from those of previous years. “Washington,” instead of “Redskins,” is now featured across the front of the jerseys. The burgundy helmets are emblazoned with gold numbers in place of the old logo.

“For the most part, ‘Washington Football Team’ is pretty easy to remember,” McLaurin said. “You’ve just got to try to remember the last part isn’t a part of who we are anymore.”

McLaurin said he has relegated his Redskins clothing and gear to the closet in his home. He wears only the new stuff.

Collins, meanwhile, has a different idea in mind for what to do with his Redskins merchandise. Growing up in Louisiana, he was a die-hard Redskins fan because of Taylor. The hard-hitting safety was his role model.

Collins was moved to tears when he was presented with a game-worn Taylor jersey last year after signing with Washington.

“That’s like what you pass down,” Collins said of his Redskins memorabilia. “It’s like I used to play for the Redskins and now I play for the Washington Football Team, and then I’m going to play for a different name in the future. I keep it to pass it down. That’s like stuff you just hold on to forever because you can always say, ‘I played for this team.’ It’s always something that’s close to me because I was a Redskins fan.”

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