The Washington Commanders have been under new ownership for a few months and the franchise is likely to see many changes over the course of the next year. One thing that won’t change, however, is the name.
At a dinner at the Economic Club of Washington, DC Wednesday night, Commanders managing partner Josh Harris and top limited partner Mitchell Rales told the media and the assembled crowd of nearly 700 that they are not changing the Commanders back to the Redskins would. The name the team abandoned in 2020.
“The ship sailed,” Rales said via The Washington Post. “We will not reappraise the past. We are about the future. We are concerned with shaping the future and not with a divisive culture in which we engage. At the end of the year we’re going to look at everything, think about a lot of different things and do a lot of testing and see what people think. And we will learn. The beauty is that we have the time to look at all of these things intelligently and make fan-based decisions.”
The team ditched the Redskins name in 2020 amid a summer of racial protests following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. For years, Native American human rights groups had protested and lobbied for a new name, only until current former owner Dan Snyder stepped in and confidently declared that the name would never be changed.
When Snyder finally relented, it was almost certainly about money. The decision was announced shortly after FedEx, which owns the naming rights to Commanders Stadium, reportedly threatened to end the sponsorship deal with the team six years early if the name was not changed. That would have cost Snyder and the team nearly $50 million a year.
Rales confirmed there will be more changes, but is focusing on improving both the fan and player experience at FedEx Field in the near future. As for other changes, since the takeover by the new ownership group in July there hasn’t been much time to make any key personnel decisions before the start of the season. But a year from now, the team on both sides of the field could look completely different, potentially with a new general manager, head coach and quarterback.
But no new name. The commanders are here to stay.