It’s Washington NFL Team (for now)

The Associated Press

Washington will keep its burgundy and gold colors and replace the old logo on helmets

Stephen Whyno
Associated Press

The Washington NFL franchise will go by the Washington Football Team for the 2020 season, giving the organization time to choose a new, full-time name.

The club announced the placeholder name Thursday, ahead of the start of training camp next week.

“The decision to use ‘Washington Football Team’ for this season allows the franchise the ability to undertake an in-depth branding process to properly include player, alumni, fan, community and sponsor input,” the team said in a statement. “To date, we have been pleased to see so many people putting forward their vision of what the new name and design should be on their social media channels and we look forward to including their feedback as this process progresses.”

(Related: Washington NFL team kicks out R-word)

Washington will keep its burgundy and gold colors and replace the old logo on helmets with a player’s jersey number. All references to the old nickname and logo will be removed from the team's headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, and FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

Owner Dan Snyder recently dropped the name amid pressure from sponsors and after decades of criticism from Native American advocacy groups. On Monday, he hired Terry Bateman as executive vice president and chief marketing officer to oversee the name change and re-branding process.

The team’s website remains the old nickname and Thursday’s team announcement includes the slur. The team rebranded its Twitter account but references of the old name remain.

Carla Fredericks, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, and the director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School, said it's encouraging that the franchise selected a new moniker for this season. She said a letter from more than 150 tribal leaders and groups said the team colors needed to be changed in order to circumvent potential negative fan behavior.

“What we are really advocating for at this point, especially given the long harmful nature of the name is for a total rebrand including color rebranding and I'm hopeful we’ll see that for the 2021 season,” she said.

The Washington NFL franchise that began in Boston in 1932 had the controversial name since 1933. FedEx — whose CEO is a minority owner — and other prominent sponsors called on Snyder to drop the name, and he did so after launching a review process.

(Related: Reactions to the Washington team name retirement)

Red Wolves and Red Tails are among the betting favorites for the new name.

“I think it’s critically important because you don’t want to do (a name change) again,” Carnegie Mellon associate professor of marketing and strategy Tim Derdenger said recently. “You don’t want to mess this up, so they really need to take it seriously."

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the team will continue the process of retiring the old nickname.

The team “hopes to be entirely rid of it on physical and digital spaces in the next 50 days, by the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Eagles,” Schefter said.

(Related video: Never say NEVER about social change)

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Indian Country Today contributed to this report

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