Eight days ago, the process of finding a new identity reached its apex. The Washington Football Team, which had gone through an 18-month search for a new name, became the Washington Commanders.
The rebranding of one of the NFL's oldest franchises was far from a one-person operation. Rather, it was a collaborative effort that benefited from several voices shaping the direction of the organization's future.
Among those at the forefront were the alumni, who team president Jason Wright thanked in the team's Feb. 2 press conference for providing guidance on how to steward the legacy they built. And when it comes to the results, many have given their stamp of approval.
"I think we've done a wonderful job taking the past and moving it towards the future," said former quarterback and winner of Super Bowl XVII Joe Theismann.
One of the biggest concerns from the alumni regarding Washington's rebrand regarded the organization's history, which included three Super Bowls and five total championships. They weren't alone, either; the fans shared this sentiment, and the callbacks to the team's legacy was placed as one of the top priorities.
A quick glance will show how much history has influenced Washington's new look. The burgundy and gold colors, which Wright had assured fans would be part of the new identity, are featured prominently in the logo as well as the uniforms. The crest, which was released in addition to the "W" logo, shows the team's Super Bowl victories.
Honoring that history was one aspect that former wide receiver Santana Moss viewed as an important piece of the rebrand.
"There's too much rich tradition here for us not to have something to remember the guys that built everything about this franchise," Moss said.
It's a marriage of the past and future that players like former receiver Gary Clark can appreciate.
"You're blending the past with the present," Clark said. "And the Commanders is a 'take charge' name."
And speaking of the present, the Commanders have three new uniforms to go with their name. The home and away jerseys received an upgrade in addition to an all-back alternate that is filled with references to the military and tributes to the DMV area. Clarks said he felt he could do "a lot of damage" in the uniforms (his favorite color combination is burgundy and white).
Regarding the name itself, former quarterback Doug Williams said he feels the organization and fan base can "put our arms around' it. Theismann also supports the Commanders moniker, saying that it has "a certain ring to it."
"It has a sense of strength to it," Theismann said. "It has a sense of authority to it, and that's who we are going to become, and that's who we're gonna be. And that's why this franchise is so special to me."
The alumni are also aware that the new name will take some getting used to; after all, Washington was known as one name for nearly 90 years before ushering in a new chapter. Theismann believes the name will become more comfortable with people as they say it. Clark also has a message for the fan base: come out and support the team.
"They're gonna need you to continue to win," Clark said. "I look forward to coming out to the first game myself to support them and wish them the best."
Washington's alumni know that while the new name is exciting, it all comes down to winning. If the team can put together a string of victories in the first year of its next chapter, the transition will go much smoother.
"That proves everything," Moss said. "That will make everyone a believer … if you can win them over by winning and going out there and playing good football, building this franchise in that direction will solve everything."