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Players And Alumni React To The Washington Football Team's Name And Jerseys


Jonathan Allen was intrigued to see what the Washington Football Team was going to call itself for the 2020 season, but admittedly, it wasn't high on his list of priorities.

"As a football player, I'm focused on football," Allen told Senior Vice President of Media and Content Julie Donaldson on Friday. "I'm focused on getting ready for camp and helping this team win some football games."

Still, as the Washington Football Team unveiled its re-branding plans for the 2020 season, Allen was excited to see the new name and uniforms. That seems to be the consensus among his teammates and the team's alumni.

"I feel like this is a good...solution until we do come up with a more long-term name," Allen said.

The team's name, which was officially announced Thursday afternoon, will be its official title, pending the adoption of a new team name. The team plans to include player, alumni, fan, community and sponsor input in the process.

"I'm definitely excited about them taking their time with getting a new name and building a new tradition and culture," said quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. "I'm...excited for the year."

Former Washington cornerback Fred Smoot, who played for the franchise for a combined seven seasons between 2001-09, said the decision on the process of changing the name was "perfect." He believes the process will resonate with older fans. "You have to take your time," Smoot said. "And four or five weeks, I don't think that was long enough for them to vet the names."

Smoot also likes that the team will be asking for fans' opinions on the name. Everyone should have their vote, Smoot said, and he thinks including fans will make them feel more involved in the process. Smoot already has an idea on what the team should call itself after the 2020 season: the Red Wolves.

"It allows us to keep the burgundy and gold," Smoot said. "It allows the fanbase to keep the 'HTTR.' It fits all the bills, it checks all the boxes and I could just see...80,000 people howling like wolves."

Former Washington running back Brian Mitchell doesn't like to get caught up in team names.

Playing for a team is about representing a city or region, he said, so he always viewed himself as playing for Washington during his 10 years with the team.

"As I think back on my career, I played for pride," Mitchell said. "I played for my teammates; I played for the people that believed in me. The era changed, in a sense, but it's still that same whole deal, and I can just add that to my book. It's just a new chapter for the same story that's been told."

In addition to the new name, the team revealed new uniform concepts featuring Allen, Haskins Landon Collins, Daron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan and Chase Young. The word "Washington" is displayed across the front of the burgundy and gold jerseys. The helmets will also retain the burgundy color, but will now feature gold numbers on each side.

The look is similar to what Allen wore at the University of Alabama, which he said is "unique."

Haskins also likes the new "throwback" uniforms, but he said it doesn't matter to him what they wear; he just wants to play. He does, however, like that the burgundy and gold are still the primary colors.

"The color scheme is something that we've always loved, especially in the DMV area," Haskins said. "It's always close to our hearts. I'm excited to put them on and represent the area."

Kerrigan, who has been with the team since 2011, said he has always felt numbers on the sides of helmets were a "clean look," and he is "pumped" to put on the new uniforms this season.

Kerrigan acknowledges that he will be in a new era of football in Washington once he puts on the jersey for the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. After being with the team for nine seasons, he feels fortunate that he gets to be a part of the transition.

"I think it's going to be a nice change," he said. "It's something our region and fans can be proud of moving forward."

Kerrigan also feels the decision to change the team name was the right decision. He felt it would have been "a big undertaking" to find a new name and mascot. The decision, Kerrigan said, allows for the team to move forward and thoughtfully come up with a name.

"The team has always been about the franchise rather than just the nickname," he said. "That's why I feel like being the Washington Football Team is actually kind of a cool thing. … It brings us together under one name of being Washington."

Young, who just signed his contract with the rest of the 2020 draft class, has a similar outlook to Allen. He said they could have named the team anything; his outlook on his rookie season would not have changed.

"Just trying to stay prepared and trying to stay ready for that day when we show up on the field," he said.

As far as the uniforms are concerned, Young said it's a "sharp, tight, firm look."

"It doesn't do too much," he said. "It's just perfect."

It's apparent that despite all the excitement, the players are ready to start playing football again. They're excited about the changes, but their primary focus is moving towards the 2020 campaign after an unprecedented offseason.

"Right now," Young said, "I'm just ready to play ball."

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