Is Washington's NFL Team Hinting At (or Trying Out) Its New Identity Through T-shirts?
The Washington Football Team, as it is now officially known, is in a weird place right now. The season is supposedly happening soon, but we’re still no closer to a new name for the franchise, after it officially retired the “Redskins” moniker.
The soccer fan in me wants them to just stay as Washington FC for fun, but that probably won’t be the case. There have been a few other names thrown out like Warriors and Redtails, and the first batch of “Washington Football Team” official merchandise might provide some clues for what to expect next.
It’s highly unlikely that an NFL team permanently stays as “The Washington Football Team” forever (same goes for the CFL’s Edmonton Football Team). Even the Browns have a team name. Not a good one, but it’s a name. That’s about all they have going for them other than Odell Beckham Jr.
So it’s logical to think that this first round of merchandise is just something of an appetizer. Maybe it’s a way to test the new brand identity to see if it lands, with the option of tweaking it down the road if the fans don’t like it.
CBS Sports went full investigative mode on this first round of promotional items, stringing red yarn between photos of logos and fonts on a big corkboard wall to guess what the new team name will be.
CBS’s Bryan DeArdo noticed that the new Washington logo (if this, in fact, the one they stick with) has sort of a lift-off vibe, giving credibility to the rumor that they would rebrand as the Washington Redtails. It makes sense: It keeps the same cadence for the fight song, they can still use the #HTTR hashtag for marketing, and it distances them from the racially insensitive mascot they previously used in favor of honoring the Tuskegee Airmen.
See the top right design in this tweet:
What do y'all think about the new Washington Football Team gear available on the NFL Shop? 🤔
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) July 29, 2020
You’ll also notice that the shirt on the bottom right has a definite airplane motif to it. That could just be coincidental, and we’re seeing it because we have the idea of Redtails in our head. But it might not be an accident.
Everything else is pretty boilerplate. It keeps the old color scheme, and aside from that is about as nondescript as the Cleveland Browns' identity and on-field presence.
With that in mind, this very well might be a trial run for a potential name. If the ones with the definite airplane vibes sell more than the others, then that would indicate to the franchise that people would be into that going forward. If it’s the more plain ones, then maybe we see other ideas come out soon before a new name does. Maybe some give off “Warriors” vibes. Maybe some have some woodland “Redwolves” design elements. We’ll have to see. Maybe they'll play this whole season as the team with the second-worst branding (Browns) and continue to test the branding waters until next year.
In the mean time, we have the Washington Football Team, the NFL equivalent of Dwight Schrute’s birthday party decorations.