Washington's NFL team unveils new name as Commanders following controversial rebrand

The new name for the NFL franchise previously known as the Washington Redskins has been unveiled. Credit: Washington Commanders

Washington Commanders is the new name for the American football team formerly known as Washington Redskins.

The team made the announcement on their official social media channels.

It comes 18 months after the franchise announced its decision to drop their controversial name and logo due to pressure from sponsors and decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.

FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.

Native American advocates and experts have long criticised the previous name they call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”

Speaking about the new look co-owner and co-CEO Dan Snyder said; "It is important for our organisation and fans to pay tribute to our past traditions, history, legacy and the greats that came before us.

"We continue to honour and represent the Burgundy & Gold while forging a pathway to a new era in Washington. Today may mark the first day for the Washington Commanders, but we are and always will be Washington."

In July 2020, the franchise announced the decision to make a change through a statement online, which came on the old letterhead with the Redskins name.

The team went on to cut ties with racist founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.

Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved the team to DC four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate his team.

For the past year and a half the team has been temporarily named 'Washington Football Team' as the side went through a lengthy rebranding.

The team competed as Washington Football Team for two seasons Credit: PA Images

Closer to home, rugby union club Exeter Chiefs announced last week their intentions to drop their Native American theme and rebrand.

They had been previously criticised for using the association, which campaigners had argued relied on "dehumanising" stereotypes.

The club said it has been "willing to listen" and is "ready to invoke change" and are set to rebrand themselves in line with the 'Celtic Iron Age Dumnonii Tribe' which lived in Cornwall, Devon and parts of Somerset before the Roman Occupation in 43AD.

The new logo will be used from July 2022, but the club will continue to be called "The Chiefs".

The new logo to be used by Exeter Chiefs from July this year. Credit: Exeter Chiefs

The club said the new badge was the result of a long consultation process, linking historical research with the views of supporters.

This includes the Native American headdresses worn by some fans and Sandy Park's 'Wigwam Bar'.

In January, the National Congress of American Indians - which is the largest US group representing Native Americans - penned an open letter to the club, urging them to change.

Exeter officially retired their ‘Big Chief’ mascot following a similar review in July 2020, but decided against a full rebrand at the time.