When the Washington Football Team unveils its permanent name and logo, it won't include any ties to Native Americans, team president Jason Wright said Monday.
That includes "Warriors."
"One might look at this name as a natural, and even harmless transition considering that it does not necessarily or specifically carry a negative connotation," Wright wrote on the team's website. "But as we learned through our research and engagement with various groups, 'context matters' and that makes it a 'slippery slope.' "
Wright said that through discussions with Native American leaders and individuals across the country, the team decided it would be in its best interest to make a clean break from the use of Native American imagery.
"We recognize that not everyone is in favor of this change," he added. "And even the Native American community offers a range of opinions about both our past and path forward. But in these moments, it is important to prioritize the views of those who have been hurt by our historical use of Native American language, iconography and imagery. ...
"We will choose an identity that unequivocally departs from any use of or approximate linkage to Native American imagery."
The move poses a stark contrast to the team's rhetoric in previous years, when owner Daniel Snyder insisted the team would "never" change its name and said the franchise believed the majority of Native Americans supported the old name.
But last July, after mounting pressure from team sponsors, local officials and a group of more than 450 Native American activists and advocacy groups who implored the NFL to force an immediate name change, the team retired its 87-year-old name and, shortly after, began a lengthy rebranding process.
In an extensive interview in June, Wright said the team will reveal its new name and logo in early 2022, and it is committed to keeping its burgundy and gold colors. The team has been working with Code and Theory, a creative agency, to pore over 40,000 fan submissions, hold focus groups, send out fan surveys and talk with local and national leaders to narrow the list.
"There's a commonality of who [fans] want us to be as an organization and what they want the name, logo, identity and ethos to represent," Wright said in the interview. "It's things like resilience, grit, tradition, a sense of fight, a sense of toughness, a sense of inclusiveness, of unity."
Wright views Washington's rebranding, in part, as a launching point for the team's bigger ambitions, such as a new stadium and evolving into a "sports media and entertainment company" with multiple non-football businesses.
Wright described it as a "reintroduction" to fans.
"But it's broader than that. It's also about reintroducing ourselves to the public, to the leaders in the area," he said. "Also implicit in that is the expansion of us from a sports franchise into a media and entertainment company. It's our vision, and this is part of what I sold Dan and Tanya [Snyder] on in my interview process: In the next decade, we should have other business lines, that are not football-related, that are at the scale of our local football business.
"The rebrand is going to be a catalyst for that."