The Commanders Era: Fans React to Washington Football Team Rebrand

Fans had mixed reactions to D.C.'s new football team name, the Washington Commanders

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Fans of Washington, D.C.’s, football team entering a new era.

The Commanders era.

The Washington Commanders officially revealed their new branding on the “TODAY” show Wednesday morning.

A cheer erupted from the crowd watching the announcement on a big screen at National Harbor when team president Jason Wright said: "We are the commanders."

Reactions ranged from lukewarm to angry to hopeful that the Commanders will rack up more wins than the Washington Football Team did over its two seasons.

"It's a new era and hopefully this will bring us some victories," one fan said while tailgating outside FedEx Field.

"The name will grow on me with winning," one fan said on Twitter.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser echoed the feeling: "The next chapter for the Washington Commanders should be a return to winning."

Another common refrain: Fans are ready for a tumultuous time in franchise history to end.

"Glad that we no longer have a name and imagery which is harmful to Native American people. Looking forward to moving onto the future. Glad it's over," another fan said.

Since the 1960s, activists have called for sports teams to stop using Native Americans as mascots. The movement's first wins happened on college campuses such as the University of Oklahoma, Dartmouth University, and Stanford University. In this digital original, we explore the long fight to change the mascot and name of Washington's football team.

“Excited to not have to run around calling it Washington Football Team,” said one fan who braved cold weather to watch the announcement at National Harbor, even though he'd correctly theorized that Commanders would be the new name (there were major hints, after all).

A woman at National Harbor with her husband, a veteran, said the name is “fitting” because people associate D.C. and the military.

Many fans wished their favorite shortlist option had been chosen.

“I feel like they should have listened to the fans with the Red Wolves, but I’ll still support regardless. I’ll forever be a Washington fan,” another fan said.

The team's new rallying cry — #TakeCommand — got a warmer reception.

One thing that won't change: the burgundy and gold colors that represent Washington football. Team co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder sported fresh varsity jackets in the iconic hues plus the new logo when addressing the changes at FedEx Field.

“As we kick off our 90th year, we’re excited to celebrate the rich history of the burgundy and gold while also paving the way for our new tradition as the Washington Commanders,” Tanya Snyder said.

Stephen Boyd, a superfan known as The Rally Captain, showed up at FedEx Field before 6 a.m., decked out in burgundy and gold gear plus a huge Washington “W” chain.

“A new name, a new era. We are about to eclipse into something that no one had ever thought about,” Boyd said. “It’s our time and we aren’t ready to go by the wayside.”

Photos: See the Washington Commanders' New Uniforms, Logo

Boyd was part of a group of fans who huddled outside the team store and watched the name change on a mobile device. They burst into a cheer once team president Jason Wright made it official.

After Tanya Snyder cut the ribbon on the team store, fans hustled in to pick up their new Commanders gear. One of those fans, 10-year-old Joshua, told NBC Sports Washington's Jordan Giorgio that he skipped school to snag a jersey.

Inside FedEx Field, signs spelled out: “The future is now.”

Burgundy and gold were splashed across the city ahead of the announcement, pointing to fans' optimism and excitement for the future. Even the Capital

At National Harbor, the Capital Wheel was lit up in Washington colors behind a jumbo screen where fans are set to watch the announcement together.

Many fans feel sad or bittersweet over the long-fought change. Indigenous communities, activists and their allies are welcoming it after years of fighting with team leadership over the former moniker, a dictionary-defined slur.

Former Washington cornerback Fred Smoot told News4 that the team is more than its name.

“If you’ve ever been part of a family, you understand this: If my sister gets married and takes on a new last name, she’s still my sister,” Smoot said. “That’s the lens we have to look out of.”

“Let’s put the past in the past, let’s move on with a new future, a new name, a new stadium, a new everything. A new era,” Smoot said.

Boyd, who says he’s only missed one game since 2014, said he’s already looking beyond the name change news — hoping for great results next season.

“A lot of people, they aren’t going to like the name. But like anything else in life, they’ll get used to it,” Boyd said.

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