I don’t think for a second that a majority of Washington fans have told the Football Team that keeping “Washington Football Team” is their preferred choice. That’s what the team’s president was trying to sell yesterday as the campaign/process of finding a new name continues. Fans are allowed to submit suggestions or vote until April 5th, at which point the team will decide. Nor do I think for one second that the team will go with whatever the fans have actually decided.
Sticking with WFT is the lack of a choice. It’s the easiest road possible. It’s the absence of decision. And it’s also the absence of making any kind of stand.
Choosing a new name would risk backlash from fans, as almost any choice would. “WFT” has been established for a season, it’s already in the minds, so whatever rebellion amongst the fans has pretty much already taken place. And while they would never say it aloud, pandemic and all, the team is probably feeling fortunate that it took place while the stadium couldn’t be full.
And backlash to a new name could cause more than enough fans to show up to FedEx Field in the old gear or headdresses or whatever else as a show of defiance. You kind of have to nail it, which is nearly impossible.
Then again, all of that might happen with “The Football Team” when fans return this fall anyway. Lack of a name doesn’t really provide another option. No new jerseys, hats, hoodies, and t-shirts with the new logo. “WFT” doesn’t really pop.
Still, leaving it is also not an attempt to erase history. A new nickname would be something like that, a starting over when it’s still one of the oldest franchises in the league. Leaving the name blank reminds everyone what used to be there and why it’s not anymore, which is a good thing. A constant teachable moment, in some ways. It feels more like an evolution of the team, albeit far too slow of one, whereas a new name might be characterized as trying to duck all that came before.
At the end of the day, the decision will be made on how much merch the team thinks it can sell just being WFT or picking a new name. But sometimes you can indirectly land on the right answer.