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Hughes: Redwolves should be WFT’s new name originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Like two teammates fighting on the sideline, the Washington Football Team could use a fresh start. The good news is fairly soon it will get one in the form of a new name and a rebrand. Really, it’s the ultimate reset button.

Remember, the organization has indicated it will announce the new name sometime in early 2022. Given 2022 is here, that means it’s likely going to happen in the next several months. My colleague J.P. Finlay has suggested they should reveal it on Jan. 26, which would be the 30th anniversary of their last Super Bowl. It makes perfect sense.

Whenever the news breaks, it will represent about as big a change as a franchise and a fanbase can undergo. It is longer-lasting than any head coaching hire or first-round draft pick or even an ownership change. It is, theoretically, a permanent decision.

Washington has now had almost two years to think about it and has apparently winnowed the options down to a short-list. There is one name, however, that stands out to me as the best choice and that is… drumroll, please… the Redwolves.

Jonathan Allen seems to agree and head coach Ron Rivera has suggested he likes it, too. The chances of Redwolves actually being the name, though, are unclear. Some in the know have suggested its proponents shouldn’t get their hopes up. There is also the matter of trademarks and copyrights, though Facebook just proved there is a price for anything with their $60 million acquisition of the name ‘Meta.’

Regardless of the actual likelihood, as we get closer to the announcement, here are five reasons why Redwolves should be the one…

Ties to the history

It may not seem like it at the moment, with a different name and after some tough years decades, but Washington is one of the more storied franchises in the NFL. They have three Super Bowl trophies and were one of the most successful teams in the early 1970s, the entire 1980s and the early 1990s. I’m in my 30s and I don’t remember any of it, as my first memories of the team featured Norv Turner as coach, but I felt connected to that history while growing up watching the team with my grandparents, who told me of the glory days.

It would make sense to hold onto what they can. That’s why it was a smart decision to keep the burgundy and gold color scheme. But there are other ways they can retain the history of the team and its branding simply by choosing a name that starts with ‘R.’ There is the curly R logo and another variation that was worn on helmets designed by former Washington head coach Vince Lombardi. These logos would not only harken back to the past, but allow fans to continue using some of their old hats, jackets and other merchandise. It would also make the names of their rivalries – like Cowboys-Redwolves – sound like the originals.

USA Today Sports

Former head coach Joe Gibbs sporting the curly R logo on his hat

Could use the fight song

The H.T.T.R. fight song could be resurrected, just with a new spin. ‘Hail to the Redwolves’ follows the cadence of the original and, with a few more tweaks to the lyrics, could invite all the same traditions. The band could be in the bleachers playing it after every score and fans could also sing it not only at games, but tailgates and other settings (I’ve heard it at a few weddings). 

For any traditionalists who would push back at repurposing the fight song, it’s worth noting it has been changed before. The song originally had the word ‘Dixie’ instead of ‘D.C.’ Maybe it’s time to update it once more. Doing so would also maintain the acronym ‘H.T.T.R.’ which has been used for everything from t-shirts to a Twitter hashtag.

Good cause

As detailed by Scott Allen of the Washington Post, choosing the name would help raise awareness for actual red wolves that used to inhabit the entire southeast and are now an endangered species. Some critics of ‘Redwolves’ have questioned why the team would choose a name of an animal that doesn’t exist around Washington, D.C. Well, they don’t anymore, but the name would absolutely have significance to the region.

Choosing Redwolves could go a small way towards making the animal’s future more secure. Plus, having a name with a positive connotation would be a nice change of pace after the last two. One offended people, while the current one is easily made fun of. Wolves, meanwhile, are essentially dogs and everyone likes dogs. If they don’t, they’re probably Eagles fans. On a related note, though it’s not a perfect representation, Washington fans could have red huskies as pets.

Lots of songs

This is an underrated reason, but one that could be more valuable than it seems. There are a ton of songs based on the words ‘wolf’ and ‘wolves.’ You know how the Cowboys have adopted Wiz Khalifa’s ‘We Dem Boys,’ therefore ruining that once-great song for every Washington fan? Washington could have the same connection to a song, or many, depending on the genre.

Seriously, think about it. If it’s rap you could do either ‘Wolves’ by Kanye West or ‘Wolves’ by Big Sean and Post Malone (my personal choice). If it’s rock you could go ‘Werewolves of London’ by Warren Zevon, or for an 80s spin you could use ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ by Duran Duran. There are many more options and, even if one became the preferred choice for player introductions, they could probably build an entire pregame playlist for the stadium with songs that stick to the theme. The same could be done with the word ‘red.’

Fred Smoot

The first person I heard suggest ‘Redwolves’ was former Washington cornerback Fred Smoot, who now works in the media, including on the Team 980 postgame show. He brought it up in the summer of 2020 on the Washington Football Team podcast, pointed out how unique it would be to the NFL and said to envision a packed stadium howling like wolves. It sounded absolutely awesome.

Smoot should get some credit if it becomes the choice. He was a fan favorite here for his outsized personality and would be immortalized as the guy who popularized the movement, giving people a reason to Google him a hundred years from now.