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NFL

How Is This Damn WFT Name Search STILL Going On?

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - JULY 13: Hand painted concrete barriers stand in the parking lot of FedEx Field, home of the NFL's Washington Redskins team July 13, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. The team announced Monday that owner Daniel Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working on finding a replacement for its racist name and logo after 87 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It has been almost exactly 60 weeks since Danny Snyder was pseudo-shamed into abandoning the well-worn slur and accompanying logo that marked the Washington Football Team, and the team has managed to disgrace itself in enough ways since then that Snyder’s wife Tanya is now tasked with being the frontwoman for the operation. And you know what that means, right, kids?

A treacly cringecast with Tanya Snyder and your host, Adam Schefter, in which she mostly got noticed for rebaiting the hook for a new team nickname, with the hook this time being that the team was down to three possible options from eight candidates. Too easy to see it coming, really.

There wasn’t any real news in the eight semifinalists (Armada, Brigade, Commanders, Defenders, Presidents, Redhawks, Redwolves and WFT), since team president Jason Wright had pretty much listed them months earlier, nor the fact that WFT is still going to be the name through the 2021 season, which we also knew. Other than those repurposed revelations and some vague references to change, the interview was largely the platitudinous festival of empty rhetoric her husband, or really any NFL owner, could have delivered with no more than three minutes’ prep. She is at least in that way fully up to speed.

But the idea that the team nickname issue, which as we said is entering Month 15 with almost no visible progress toward resolution, deserves this much mystery in the build-up shows that she seems to understand the value of misdirection as much as her husband has. Never mind that the prospective names all stink (Presidents? Brigade? How about Bitcoin Jobbers or Unindicted Co-Conspirators?). It’s the idea that this will be the first sign of a new and glorious dawn in this fetid swamp of an operation rather than the empty marketing scam Danny always dismissively besmirched as being beneath him in his years in full-throated defense of the indefensible.

Still, Tanya Snyder knew the job was lucrative yet potentially dangerous window-dressing when she took it two months ago, and she took on being the team’s latest human shield with relish. And maybe it is. The inheritors of wealth and power in sports can be women just as easily as they can be men, whether it happens through birth, marriage, bequest, or lawsuit. We single Tanya Snyder out only because (a) she was asked to flog the nickname story as the merch work it has become, and (b) she played it with undeserved gusto like one of those luxury yacht deckhand shows that foul the off-brand networks owned by the brand networks.

To be clear, her sins are not those of her husband, but her giddy pleasure in acting like  this is about anything but the sin her husband fought years to defend is simply boilerplate opportunism. She has had the job for two months, the nickname replacement scam has gone on for 14, and it still needs another eight? And that’s forgiving them the 21 years since Dan bought the team from the Cooke estate and knew the name and iconography were deeply problematic, just so they can turn it into some glorified quarter-century’s worth of game show prize reveal.

This could have been a dignified and progressive moment had Snyder announced the new name, or at least had the grace to admit that it has been way too long in the shilling. Cleveland’s baseball team took half as long as the Washingtons to come up with Guardians, and the Edmonton CFL team needed less than a year to transition to Elks. But Tanya Snyder still reports to others on this and on all the more serious franchise shortcomings that have made the operation an embarrassment even to other billionaires. So to make this story last as long as possible so that people either forget that it was a necessary remedy to travesty and a partition separating its mundane essence from the cavalcade of other lawsuits, the interview, her first as CEO/Danny’s public face mostly just cast her as a younger and less beardy Drew Carey flogging the Showcase on an endless loop while everyone (including Schefter) is trapped in an airport bar that’s run out of liquor.

Then again, the team still has lots of WFT merch to shift between now and next spring, giving us another reminder that the name change that people demanded on grounds of decency will be handled with the maximum exchange of money—which weirdly was one of the lines of reasoning that advocates used as a reason for them to WANT to change the name in the first place. And that ESPN would be cheerful participants at the forefront of all this belated flogging is, well, I guess this is why the phrase “synergy in hell” springs so easily to the brain.

And in the end, all for the Washington Armada or Washington Defenders? This will not end up as Tanya Snyder’s singular moment of triumphant achievement, but like we said, she knew or should have suspected that the job was all empty calories and nonsense when she took it. She probably didn’t imagine it would take this long to sift through eight bad nicknames and still be stuck on three, though.