What will be the Washington name?
By: Brady Akins
Back in April of 2021, the NFL franchise currently known as the Washington Football Team took a major step towards rebranding, sending out surveys to season-ticket holders on what to do about the team’s name. Or, in this case, lack thereof.
The result? A list of 37 potential names for Washington. Some of them are solid. Most of them are… well, if you don’t already know, you’re about to find out.
But being the kind-hearted philanthropist that I am, I decided to help out the Washington franchise by ranking all of their candidate names to help them narrow down the list and weed out some of the weaker suggestions.
Without further fanfare, let’s take a look.
Why the Aces?
No, seriously, like why the Washington Aces?
The name doesn’t evoke a sense of fear or dread or authority in the way a traditional mascot would. It isn’t iconic or representative of a Washington D.C.-based landmark or feature, at least not to my knowledge.
So again… why? What are we doing here? The only conceivable benefit to this particular name change would be Washington fans finding themselves at the top of lists where the mascot is ranked in alphabetical order. That, and the name isn’t horrifyingly offensive.
(Also, the name is already taken)
The name ‘Ambassadors’ solves the issue of practicality and sensibility that the Aces name presented… I guess.
What better way to represent the nation’s capital than naming its very own football team after an ambassador– a diplomat in a political capacity. If nothing else, the name makes sense.
The main issue with the Ambassadors is marketability. Of the 31 other NFL teams, 27 have mascot names that are either one or two syllables. Ambassadors has four. Somehow, the name ‘Ambassadors’ would come across as less snappy and less catchy than the name ‘Football Team.’
The only current NFL team to match the Ambassadors in syllable length is the 49ers– a team name often shortened to the ‘Niners’ to the extent that San Francisco’s official team shop sells merchandise using the shorthand name.
Washington could try shortening their lengthy name to ‘Bassadors’ or something similar, but nothing in that vein quite rolls off the tongue.
Close your eyes and picture Washington D.C. for a moment– now open them.
If you’re still reading, you clearly didn’t follow instructions. How would you know to open your eyes if you had closed them when I told you to?
But regardless, for my rule-breakers out there, what do you picture when thinking of Washington? Likely the White House, Washington Monument, wheel and spoke patterned roads, and a plethora of other human-built landmarks.
Probably not many of you jumped to bodies of water large enough to require an anchor.
The saving grace of this name is in the power associated with it. Anchors equals boats, which equals sailors, which oftentimes are associated with big, strong men with eyepatches and parrots and gold doubloons lining their pockets. Or, at least the first part of that is true.
The name is tough, but not much else about it makes sense.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
This is a name that, perhaps surprisingly based on the previous potential names, checks all the boxes for a quality mascot. A short and sweet name associated with combat that maybe even loosely relates to the country’s battle for independence? Archers is as close to a winner as we’ve seen so far from the list.
There are, however, a couple of nitpicks. Archers being a bit more finesse fighters than the ‘down and dirty’ image you would typically prescribe to a football team, and the name coming across a bit like a generic high school mascot from the Road to Glory mode in NCAA 14.
But time could be kind to this mascot. Out of the previous four names, it’s a clear front-runner.
This name has most of the positives outlined in the ‘Archers’ name, being short and aggressive the way all good mascots are. But this one comes with a few more downsides.
The biggest one being– how many people actually know what an ‘Armada’ is? I would be willing to bet that most people know that it’s military-based, but do they know that it’s defined as a “fleet of warships?” Are we really going to make NFL fans Google the definition of their team name before opening kickoff?
This also brings us back to the big issue with the “Anchors” name. There is water in the Washington D.C. area, but how many of us associate it with water. The Dolphins and Buccaneers can get away with it as Florida-based teams. Washington cannot.
I have a fun exercise for you.
I know, I know, reading is a chore as is, but let me illustrate to you the biggest issue with this name through the power of demonstration.
Go to your search engine of choice and look up the term ‘Aviators.’ What did you get? Sunglasses.
Yes, yes, I am aware that an Aviator is also a non-sunglasses-related word, but it’s the sunglasses that own the association. When you’re a football franchise, you likely want the first thing people think of when they mention your name to be your team.
Point being, the name is taken.
This is a name that, for better and worse, leans heavily into the symbolism behind Washington D.C.
Playing under the name ‘Washington Beacons,’ the franchise would be paying homage to its American ties by representing the original idea of the country as a beacon of prosperity for everyone.
That’s the point, anyway. Beyond its symbolism, the name is a bit bland, and there are likely more creative and exciting ways to illustrate that same idea of pride.
Not the best name. But as we’ve seen, far from the worst.
What the hell is a Belter?
Similar to Archers and Armada before it, the Washington Brigade has direct ties to the military– making it an assertive option for a team name.
But Brigade shines as a name in a way those previous two falter. Archers is more associated with combat in general than specifically military combat, and Armada is tied directly to sea combat rather than land fighting. Brigade takes those missteps and turns them into positives.
Representative of the team’s location, aggressive in nature, unique and snappy. As a name– Brigade is a winner. Relatively speaking, at least.
Capital City Football Club
This one works… I guess.
Capital City Football Club includes a nice homage to the significance of Washington D.C. but beyond that there isn’t much being offered here.
It’s simple. Has a little charm. But overall feels bland in comparison to some of the other candidates.
A large portion of the list is made up of names based in combat. The Commanders is another, and it lands somewhere in the middle of the others in terms of quality.
It does check all the key boxes, even if it is a touch on the longer side. The biggest falt in this name is that a Commander feels like an individualistic title. Pluralize it if you want, but there’s a distinct lack of team cohesion here. Without a group of soldiers to command, a commander simply commands commands to other commanders too busy commanding commands to take in the other commander’s commands.
Or something like that.
This team name is a lot like the Commanders. Makes sense, rolls off the tongue, all that good stuff we’re looking for here. It just has one distinct problem.
A mascot based on the root word “defense” would imply no offense. Which, at least in the current state of the roster, does make sense for the Washington Football Team. But I’m sure the marketing intention isn’t to label the team as one who only plays defense.
Imagine the team has just one bad offensive showing. The jokes write themselves.
“Just 10 points, huh? Guess they’re called the Defenders for a reason.”
“Defenders really living up to their namesake in playing absolutely no offense.”
“They don’t call them the Offenders, folks.”
It would be a bloodbath. On the surface, this name works. But it cannot be allowed.
Demon Cats sounds like the name of a fake high school in Friday Night Lights. I think. I’ve never actually seen the show.
What I’m trying to say is that the name is bad.
First City Football Club
I have, just, so many questions.
What does “First City” mean in this context? I’m no history major, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that Washington D.C. is not the first American city. So what gives?
Why “Football Club?” Are we trying to class up the sport of American football by associating it with European football?
Did you guys think that the alliterative ‘FCFC’ was cool? Be honest. I won’t judge.
What is the logo going to be? Are we going with just the letters ‘FC’ on a helmet? And if that is the plan, will the ‘FC’ represent ‘First City’ or ‘Football Club?’
So much confusion for such a terrible name.
Washington just spent an entire season being made fun of for playing 16 regular-season games of football with a placeholder name. They won the NFC East branding themselves as the ‘Football Team’ because they couldn’t think of a new non-offensive name in time for kickoff.
But, they did almost beat the Buccaneers in the playoffs. So maybe it’s good luck.
You can’t go wrong with Greek mythology– especially when the mythological creature in question has the features of an eagle, the symbol of American patriotism, and a lion, the symbol of ferocity in the animal kingdom.
This name runs the risk of being a bit too abstract of a creature for the mainstream. That said, the branding possibilities are endless. It’s a name that people would learn to love.
‘Guardians’ presents the same cost/benefit conundrum as ‘Defenders.’
Guardians has ties to the military, making it a powerful name.
However, “I guess they can guard the endzone but not attack it.”
Guardians makes sense as a name given the team’s geographical location.
However, “Boy the Guardians sure could use some guardians on the offensive line with all these sacks.”
This name gets a rating bump over Defenders for the simple reason that many of the potential quips are comedic reaches. But it is something to consider.
The Washington Football Team hasn’t had a 10-win season since 2012 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2005. The name ‘Icons’ seems a bit ambitious.
That said, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. The silver lining of this name is that it gives the team something to aspire towards. But there isn’t much else going for this one.
What’s the mascot going to be? Are you gonna slap a silhouette of the Washington Monument on people’s helmets and a JPG of Mount Rushmore on the 50-yard line and call it a day?
In cinema, sometimes you have a movie that has absolutely nothing wrong with it… but also does absolutely nothing particularly well. Completely inoffensive as a product. Something you’ll forget about the literal second it’s no longer in your immediate view.
That’s what the Majors is as a name. As I sit here pondering my rating (Spoiler: leaning towards a 4 or a 5 here but we’ll see), I keep trying to think of reasons to justify giving it a low score– but I can’t. But I can’t think of one reason why it works either. It’s just so… boring. Like the plain yogurt of football team names, if that makes any sense.
American patriotism seems to be the prevailing theme throughout these proposed name changes. Which, given that Washington plays in the nation’s capital, makes sense.
So then why, why, would the D.C.-based football team tie themselves to the monarchy. Somebody, please help me understand.
This one works well enough.
Not necessarily a ‘showstopping winner,’ nor a name that will go down as iconic or even particularly exciting. But it gets the job done.
It’s snappy, catchy, easy to brand, and won’t leave anybody laughing at the team’s expense or groaning in displeasure.
Which, given the last name of the Washington Football Team, is a step in the correct direction.
The prime example of a name making perfect sense, but still somehow managing to be awful.
I get it, Washington, I do. Presidents. Like the people who live and work in D.C. But don’t we think that maybe this one is just a touch too on the nose? And when you take the field on Sundays, do you really want your opponents associating you with William Howard Taft or Martin Van Buren over literally anything else?
I’m not entirely sure what a ‘Razorback’ is.
But I do know that it’s taken.
Bonus points will be awarded for each of the proposed names that manage to work the word “red” in somewhere. A nice homage to the franchise’s origins without being, you know, horrible.
That said, I’m not so sure that ‘Redhogs’ is the route to take. Not that it’s entirely bad as much as it’s not entirely good. Kind of a middle-of-the-road ‘couldn’t think of anything else’ type option. This one has the air of a low-budget high school team name than the iconic gravitas of an NFL team. Lacks the history of a name like the 49ers or the authority of the Titans.
Plus, I’m not even so sure that a redhog is a real animal!
The Redtails have been floated out as a possible name change since before the team even decided to play under the name ‘Football Team,’ and for good reason too. This one, and I do not say this lightly, is an absolute banger.
This name serves as a historical nod to the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of primarily Black pilots in the United States Air Force who served in World War II. Making it fierce, geographically relevant, and just super cool.
And it has the word ‘red’ without being lazily thrown in! A borderline perfect name.
Yet another name that has been thrown around as a possibility since early in the rebranding process, and yet another name that actually kind of slaps.
The possibilities to play ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ by Duran Duran are endless. The branding opportunities are unlimited. A nice, fun, spunky name suggestion.
The only downside is that I’m not sure that a redwolf is a real animal either!
And also that this name is already taken.
This one has some appeal. It’s tough in an ‘80s teen drama ‘too cool for school’ character type of way.
It can (very loosely) be tied to the Founding Fathers, who, in a historical sense, could be considered renegades.
There are elements of a solid team name in here, for sure. But, when compared to the better names on this list, this one doesn’t quite hold up.
A miracle. On a list of potential names that includes ‘Demon Cats, Icons, FCFC and Presidents,’ the Washington Rising somehow manages to upstage them all in terms of pure horribleness.
Unlike those other previously mentioned terrible suggestions– I have no clue whatsoever what this name is attempting to accomplish. At least to my knowledge, it’s not a reference to anything, it’s not iconic or emblematic of some Washington D.C. area feature. It’s just… kind of a random verb?
At least this name starts with an R so the team can use old throwback helmets?
After all of the attempts to associate your franchise with American patriotism, why on earth do you keep dipping back into the well of outdated forms of authority? The Monarchs fails as a name because the area where the team plays stands as a symbol for the country’s effort to break away from the monarchy.
Similarly, they play in an area that represents a form of government that should never and will never be based on royalty with kings and queens.
Also, this name is taken.
The thing that bothers me the most about this name, aside from its general terribleness, is how it feels so lazy.
A team name that starts with an R and would be difficult to come up with a logo for… hey, good thing the franchise already has generic helmets and uniforms with nothing but an R on them!
And what do you know, those same helmets and uniforms are also red! Like a ruby!
Looks like they won’t have to put any effort into a rebrand. How lucky.
The number of people I could envision making Taylor Swift jokes every time this team is mentioned is astronomical. That said, Taylor Swift is a delight.
That’s the one and only thing keeping this name from earning the lowest possible score.
About as generic as you can get– but there’s a reason for that.
Just because something is cliched doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, the reason things become a cliche in the first place is because they’re overused. And things become overused because they work. That’s the circle of life.
This one is a little bit overplayed, a little bit lazy, but it’s a nice solid name.
Even though it is already taken.
Me: What on earth is a ‘Wayfarer?’
Me: *Googles Wayfarer*
Me: Oh! Another team name associated with sunglasses over anything else! Neat.
I do like the alliteration here though.
Another potential name with some association to pigs? What’s with that? What are we doing here?
Is it like a ‘pigskin’ joke?
Regardless, I’m not sure that ‘animal that rolls around in its own filth’ is quite the direction that should be taken when trying to create a fierce new image.
Washington D.C. Football Club
Alright Washington, if your hearts are really set on doing the ‘Football Club’ thing, this is probably the way to do it.
Not trying to get cute with the name, not trying to be fun with the alliteration. Just a solid ‘hey, here’s where we are and here’s what we are’ and call it a day.
Although I’m not sure that not just going with a traditional mascot is the way to go.