Hogettes, Washington Redskins fans, stand in line as they watch Hall of Fame offensive lineman Russ Grim, shown on screen, accept his ring during the break of the Redskins / Colts game at FedEx Field on October 17, 2010 in Landover, Md. .
Ricky Carioti | Washington Post | Getty Images
Doug Williams looked a bit surprised. And judging by his interruption, it looked like he did not even approve of the Washington Football Team’s new name.
The Washington Commanders.
The National Football League franchise officially revealed its long-awaited secret with a rebrand on Wednesday, burying the name Washington Football Team on NBC’s “TODAY” show. It had used the generic term since dropping its former name, long considered a racist incantation against Indians, in July 2020 after the threat of company sponsors pulling out of business.
During the announcement, Williams, a team leader and the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, sat next to team president Jason Wright, the first black team president in the NFL.
“We are the commanders,” Williams said.
“It’s something that allows us to tie the rich history and championship heritage of this franchise to new traditions in the future,” Wright added.
The NFL team, which is worth more than $ 4 billion, still has the same problems – there are new allegations of sexual harassment around the owner, Dan Snyder, accusations Snyder has denied.
And now the team has got its new brand. But it missed an opportunity to relive a funny part of its past with its name change. Here’s why.
Love them Hogs
The Commanders is not the worst name the team could have chosen, but it is not original either.
The short-lived Alliance of American Football owned the San Antonio Commanders franchise before the league collapsed in 2019. Therefore, it is likely that the name was up for grabs after the football property was filed for bankruptcy. The league owed more than $ 40 million, of which $ 7 million to MGM, which was an initial investor in AFF, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Throughout the search, Wright, who took over the role of president in August 2020, requested fan responses for a new name. He wrote in a blog post that the franchise could not team up with fan favorite The Red Wolves due to trademarks contained by other teams. And the Presidents, another rumored name, was the least preferred among polls among NFL fans.
The research firm Morning Consult found that the Defenders name was the most advantageous. The admirals and commanders were next.
But up until the name revelation, I became curious as to what a true fan would think. So I called my good friend Ron Burke, a lifelong football fan in Washington, and he told me about Hogs.
The Hogs nickname traces back to 1980s offensive linemen, including Pro Bowlers Jeff Bostic, Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm. The group was coached by longtime assistant Joe Bugel, the creator of the “Hogs” nickname. The unit helped Washington appear in three Super Bowls during the 1980s and won in the 1982 and 1987 seasons.
“The name was there, but it never took off until you started winning,” Grimm said in a video explaining Hogs’ origins. “The fans – they made it as big as it has turned out to be,” added Grimm, known as “Porky.”
The group was fun and had character. The Hogs grew with their annual “5 o’clock club” collections, which started in 1982 and took place after training. And according to Jacoby, they created Hog T-shirts that they wore every Thursday or were fined $ 5 among the group. The money raised helped fund their annual Hogs party.
Members of “Hogettes” led by Michael “Boss Hogette” Torbert (white hat) at the Super Bowl pregame pep rally outside RFK Stadium Washington, DC., January 21, 1984
Mark Reinstein | Corbis historic | Getty Images
“You had to be ugly, you had to be fat, and you had to be semi-lineman to be in the 5-time club,” former Washington lineman Don Warren joked in the video.
After researching Hogs, I thought the name suited the team well and that the company would excel. The commodity game was there with the Hog noses. Fans would probably dress up again as “Hogettes”. And Ron had some suggestions on how the franchise could honor the original Hogs in the first few seasons to help reintroduce the story and rebuild the brand.
The red pigs. Ron agreed. My CNBC colleague, Dominic Chu, even took to Twitter to approve “Warthogs” – but that was after the team teamed up with Commanders.
“That’s what we are,” Williams said. “We have to get on with it. And I like the name. It sounds good. Washington Commanders.”
The team’s co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder pose for a picture with the new team kits during the announcement of the Washington Football Team’s name change to the Washington Commanders at FedExField on February 2, 2022 in Landover, Maryland.
Rob Carr | Getty Images
No more a secret
On Wednesday, I tuned in to “TODAY” for the unveiling, though the name was no longer a secret after a video recording from a helicopter captured the Commanders name inside the team’s home stadium, FedEx Field.
“It’s a name that has the weight and significance of a 90-year-old franchise,” Wright explained during the unveiling. “It’s something that resonated with our fans, and it’s something that we believe embodies the values of service and management that really define [District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia area].
“It’s also something, most important of all, that we can own and grow for the next 90 years,” Wright added.
Maybe Ron, Dominic and I are in the minority in terms of any version of the Hogs name. It sounded funny though.
Following the revelation, e-commerce company Fanatics told CNBC that Commanders was the best-selling team across their platform. In addition, the company added four of the five best-selling products: two Commanders jerseys, a team hoodie and a long-sleeved T-shirt.
The fifth most popular item: Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey because the NFL quarterback withdrew a day before the Commanders name went live.
And that Morning Consult poll? Well, it turned out that the Red Hogs name is one of the least popular. It turns out that 54% of fans thought the name was unfavorable. Armada and the presidents were also at the bottom of the list.
When asked about his response to fans rejecting Commander’s name, Williams replied: “What I would say to those people is – with guys like Jonathan [Allen] and this football team, they’ll come to love the Commanders. ”
I still like Red Hogs.