The Washington Football team rekindled speculation about his future nickname this week by posting a video about its renaming, which quoted eight possible names. While Jason Wright, the team’s president, finally said other candidates were also considered, but that didn’t deter every fan within 3,000 miles of the capital from weighing the pros and cons of each proposal.
The list of eight included military names such as armada, brigade, commanders, and defenders; Names that, perhaps inconveniently, kept the “red” of the team’s previous name, RedHogs and RedWolves; as well as the more serious offers like Presidents and the current name Football Team.
The popularity of certain types of nicknames for professional teams has increased and decreased over the years. Perhaps a look back at history can provide additional inspiration for Washington.
1922: Anything goes.
When the National Football League was founded under this name in 1922, their teams’ nicknames were ubiquitous.
Some names would have been timeless in any era: the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Some sound a bit strange to today’s ears: the Buffalo All-Americans and the Evansville (Ill.) Crimson Giants.
And a few were just weird. The Columbus Panhandles? (It has to do with West Virginia’s little panhandle.) The Louisville Brecks? (It was short for Breckenridge, though that doesn’t explain much.) The Dayton triangles? For real?
Suggestions from History: The Washington Circles. The Washington Pentagons.
1930s: let’s name two.
The Cleveland Indians played in the NFL in 1931, as did the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1933 the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds merged. Yes, there were some more unusual names too (uh, the Staten Island Stapletons played from 1929 to 1932), but baseball’s success seemed like an important business model for the emerging football league.
Suggestions from History: The Washington Nationals. The Washington Senators.
1940s: War suitcases prevail.
Staff shortages and financial worries led several teams to merge during World War II. The Steelers and Eagles in 1943 became unofficial the steagles. The next season the Steelers attempted a merger with the Chicago Cardinals and formed a team known as “Card-Pitt”. Or “carpets” for the common people who noticed they finished 0-10.
Suggestions from History: The Baltimore-Washington RaveTeam. The Washington-Dallas TeamBoys.
Early 1960s: The AFL brags in.
The new American Football League, which eventually merged with the NFL, had a mix of nicknames, but some had a conquering feel to it: Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, Titans. The NFL added a couple of macho teams of their own in that era: the Cowboys and the Vikings.
Suggestions from History: The Washington Firefighters. The Washington BarBrawler.
End of the 1960s: a grass menagerie is built.
It was the era of the beast when the hawks, dolphins, and bengal joined the leagues (with the Seahawks coming on board in 1976).
Suggestions from History: The Washington Pandas. The Washington pigeons.
The 1980s: old names go west.
The pace at which new teams were inducted into the NFL slowed a decade later, but franchises looking for sweeter stadium deals were happy to move to new cities while maintaining their nicknames. The Raiders, Colts, Cardinals and Rams all made it. (The Browns changed their name to Ravens – another animal – when they moved to Baltimore in 1996.)
Suggestions from History: The Memphis Football Team. The San Antonio soccer team.
There has only been one new NFL nickname lately, the rather boring Houston Texans in 2002. That is, until Washington did the unconventional and makeshift Selection of soccer team last year.
So without much precedent, Washington has an opportunity to usher in a new era in naming NFL teams. Will an election like Armada usher in a new era in marine names? Will the selection of the President nickname lead to a wave of patriotic nicknames?
With the field still open and the team trying to expand the drama, we don’t know which direction Washington will go. Well, maybe we know this: Don’t expect the Washington Brecks.