Here are the contenders for the Washington Football Team’s new name

The announcement will end 18 months of market research for the team, which ditched its previous name under growing pressure in July 2020 because of its racist connotations.

In selecting the name, team officials have held focus groups and received more than 40,000 submissions from fans. They’ve also endured jokey suggested names about political dysfunction (let’s hear it for the Washington Gridlockers!).
On an ESPN podcast last September, team CEO Tanya Snyder confirmed the names of eight unofficial finalists: Armada, Brigade, Commanders, Defenders, Presidents, Red Hogs, Red Wolves and, yes, Washington Football Team.
But team president Jason Wright has suggested that additional names may still be in play. He also said last month that Red Wolves is no longer in the running because of trademark issues.

Here’s a closer look at what appear to be the top contenders, complete with my highly unscientific odds about each name’s chances.


Pros: The team is clearly tempted to go with a military theme. Four of the seven unofficial finalists are related to the military — five, if you consider the president as the commander in chief. “Armada,” derived from a Spanish term for a naval fleet, rolls smoothly off the tongue and sounds intimidating.

Cons: While Washington is not far from Annapolis, Maryland, home to the US Naval Academy, it’s roughly 100 miles from the open ocean and is not known as a port city.

Odds: 15 to 1


Pros: Another name that radiates military might, a brigade is a large body of troops — as many as several thousand soldiers. It also suggests people working together to battle a common enemy, as in a bucket brigade trying to put out a fire.

Cons: “Brigade” is sort of an old-timey term for a franchise that seems to want to move in a bold new direction. No current NFL team name ends in a letter other than “S.” And what would you call a Washington Brigade player — a Brigader? A brigadier? Um, no.

Odds: 12 to 1


Pros: The name fits with DC’s status as home to the Pentagon and the nation’s top brass. It sounds, well, commanding. Some sharp-eyed observers believe it will be the new name, based on a glimpse of a Commanders logo in a team-produced video and the NFL’s usage of the domain name.
And former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann, who won a Super Bowl with the Washington franchise in 1983, said Monday on a radio show, “I think the Commanders is a name that is going to be hopefully one that people talk about going forward.”

Cons: Say it with me: “Washington Commanders.” That’s a LOT of clunky syllables. And what’s the nickname — the Comms? That may not play well in city that favors snappy shorthand like Caps and Nats.

Odds: 2 to 1


Pros: Who doesn’t admire the men and women of the US armed forces who defend freedom — or at least America’s interests — around the world? And the nickname possibilities are strong: Mos Defs, anyone?
Cons: The name is already being used by the DC Defenders of the XFL, another American pro football league.

Odds: 6 to 1


Pros: Team officials say they want the new name to reflect the city, and no American is more closely identified with the nation’s capital than the president. The presidential seal — eagle, talon full of arrows, Latin phrasing and all — would look pretty cool on players’ helmets.

Cons: American presidents no longer command the respect they once did. In today’s polarized political climate, half the country seems to hate whoever occupies the Oval Office.

Odds: 25 to 1

Red Hogs

Pros: As an animal name, it stands out among all the other contenders. It’s also a nod to the franchise’s glory days of the late ’80s and early ’90s, when its burly offensive linemen were nicknamed the “Hogs” and a group of male fans, the Hogettes, began attending games in dresses and pig snouts.

Cons: A hog is not the most inspiring of animals. And what’s a red hog, exactly? No breed by that exact name appears to exist.

Odds: 7 to 1

Washington Football Team

Pros: It’s the incumbent name, and some DC fans have apparently warmed up to it. There’s almost a deadpan hipness to its lack of style. The team could save money in rebranding costs.

Cons: It’s a generic placeholder. There’s no way the Washington Football Team is devoting a year and a half to market research and then scheduling a big reveal only to announce that the new name is … the Washington Football Team.

Odds: 50 to 1

Some other name

The team has reportedly also considered such names as Admirals (also the actual name of Washington’s Major League Quidditch team — who knew?), Generals (there’s already the Washington Generals, a basketball team that plays exhibitions against the Harlem Globetrotters) and Red Tails (a nickname for the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of mostly African American pilots who fought in World War II).
The Federals — the name of Washington’s USFL franchise back in the ’80s — are another logical choice. Go Feds!
The team’s website displays several dozen names submitted by fans, including Rough Riders, Owls, Alliance and Revolution.

Some fans also have suggested Pigskins, which sounds ridiculous until you consider it 1) relates directly to football, 2) references the team’s Hogs heritage and 3) would allow the franchise to keep its longstanding ‘Skins nickname.

You couldn’t blame the Washington Football Team if they offered up the unofficial finalists as a misdirection play and then ran a reverse, surprising everyone with another name.

But it won’t be the Gridlockers.

Odds: 4 to 1

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