Column: Commanders’ name reveal receives lukewarm reception during Landover launch

“We are the Commanders,” uttered Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams on the Today Show Wednesday morning to kick off a new era in Washington football.

In July of 2020 the team announced it was moving on from its prior name and in a new direction.

What followed was 18 months of research, fan involvement, team rebranding videos and a promise to “Go Big” with the rollout of the new team name and brand.

What we actually saw on Wednesday morning seemed to be anything but that.

Forget the name, people will come around on the name. Wednesday was all about the unveiling and an opportunity to make a big statement.

First of all, doing it on The Today Show seemed a bit off from the beginning. You are in the nation’s capital, why not do something on a grand stage locally with fireworks and some fan involvement?

Instead, there was Jason Wright, Doug Williams and Jonathan Allen in folding chairs in an empty FedEx Field along with Craig Melvin. The media was assembled outside the stadium at the Bud Light Pavilion and didn’t even get to see the announcement on the Today Show.

Instead, the team showed a video that ended with “We are the Commanders.”

Co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder, along with Jason Wright and a number of alumni then paraded from inside the stadium in new “W” letter jackets and assembled on the makeshift stage.

Dan Snyder opened his comments with, “Welcome to NOT the best kept secret in D.C.”

“Today is a big day for our team, our fans, a day in which we embark on a new chapter as the Washington Commanders.”

Snyder refers to the number of leaks over the past couple weeks, including NBC Washington’s Chopper4 flying over FedEx Field Tuesday night and spotting a Washington Commanders banner inside the stadium. The team also leaked images of the new logo and name on its own television show last month.

Team president Jason Wright acknowledged the leaks, but said it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“We chose to make this an open and engaging process,” Wright said. “We wanted to engage fans and get feedback along the way. In order to do that, you have to give people stuff to react to. That increases the likelihood of a leak.”

Wright also said they included a number of former players in the process because they wanted to honor the past and make them part of the future. Two of the biggest names in franchise history, players that were part of the glory days, Williams and former wide receiver Gary Clark, both say they are on board with the name and the direction.

“I think Washington Commanders has a ring to it,” Williams said. “Now it’s up to the guys on the field to make that ring sound even louder. The more you hear the name, the more you like it. It’s fitting for the team and if they win it will speak for itself.”

Clark agreed with Williams.

“It goes with Washington, D.C.,” he said. “To me it’s a great look and a great name. I look forward to supporting it and backing it.”

Clark also agreed with a number of his former teammates on one thing:

“As soon as the Commanders start winning, and they will start to win,” he said. “All of a sudden everyone will say ‘I love the Commanders,’ ‘I always wanted the Commanders’. It’s the best thing about sports, winning cures everything.”

Despite the organization’s positive sentiments on the announcement, the execution was flat. Wednesday was a huge opportunity to launch a new era in a big way, but instead, the team completed an eight-yard pass on third and 10.

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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