The Washington Football Team became the Washington Commanders, and everyone had an opinion on the new name. For the most part, it wasn’t great. In addition, it was pretty much an open secret for at least the past week that the name would be the Commanders, and that Wednesday’s reveal was more like the inevitable conclusion of an anti-climatic story that nobody actually liked.

But why exactly did so many people hate the Commanders’ name? If we’re being honest, “Commanders” isn’t the worst name ever. And there’s a good chance that, like the Washington Football Team, people will adjust to the Commanders over time. That being said, people hated the name for a variety of reasons.

The team (and owner) is, and will continue to be, terrible

There was a time when I was a Washington fan, and before we get into the popular reasons why the team and owner Daniel Snyder is despised, this is my personal story.

When I was a kid, Washington had training camp in my town. This was when Steve Spurrier was head coach so that was around 2002. Almost every day, I would attend training camp and every once in a while get autographs from the team.

One day, I was in line to get Spurrier’s autograph and he gave off an elitist attitude that only paled in comparison to how Snyder acted around us. When I met Spurrier, he wouldn’t look at me and said very few words. I also couldn’t hand my book off to Spurrier for him to sign; I had to hand it to his assistant head coach. That assistant head coach was Marvin Lewis (who seemed miserable to be there but was incredibly nice). Lewis then handed my book to Spurrier, who signed it, and then Lewis gave my book back to me. When I asked Lewis if he would sign my book, the two of us got a death stare from Spurrier that seemed to indicate, “How dare you ask him to sign your book after I signed it.” At least he finally looked at me.

As far as Snyder was concerned, he would fly in and out via his helicopter, and he didn’t really make it a secret that he didn’t like the area and would rather move training camp to Virginia. Snyder and Spurrier would also regularly leave in Snyder’s helicopter to play golf, so needless to say, they both acted like they didn’t want to be there. Washington would leave for Virginia the next season.

There are plenty of reasons to hate on the Commanders and their past, whether it’s racial, sexist, or just sheer incompetence. But there are plenty of reasons why someone would have a low opinion of this team and the guy who “runs” it that a new name wouldn’t really change anything about them.

The name is easy to make fun of

I mean, seriously. In all the time they spent coming up with the name “Commanders,” did one person not make the connection that someone would shorten the name to “Commies”?

Maybe someone did and it was dismissed, and maybe there’s an argument that every possible name is ripe to be made fun of, but at least make it a challenge.

From the idea of a team from Washington D.C. who wears a shade of red being called the “Commies” to having a “W” on the front of their helmet that’ll no doubt be photoshopped to an “L” when they lose, it’s almost too easy to make fun.

People got used to “Washington Football Team”

When Washington changed their name to the Football Team in 2020, it was clear that it was merely a placeholder and that an official name would be announced at some point. And when the name was changed, even those who supported a name change didn’t much care for a team name that sounded like they should be playing soccer and not football.

But after two years, a lot of people got so used to the name that fans started embracing it. To the point where many preferred to keep “Washington Football Team” instead of changing it to something else.

Even though there was no indication that “Washington Football Team” would be permanent, the idea that the team sold WFT merchandise for a couple of years just to change it to something else gave off a vibe that they just wanted a placeholder as an excuse to sell even more merch when the new name would be announced. That was why I never thought they would keep the WFT name- Snyder wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to make more money. Case in point, Fanatics revealed that since the name change, the Commanders were the top-selling team across all sports. Even if a lot of people hate the name, Commanders merch is moving. And speaking of team names…

Other names were suggested and people grew attached to some of the names that weren’t accepted

For some reason, the organization felt it was necessary to reveal other potential team names even though for logistical reasons they likely knew they were going with “Commanders” for a while.

For instance, it was revealed that Armada, Brigade, Commanders, Defenders, Presidents, Red Hogs, Red Wolves, and Washington Football Team were the finalists. Among those possibilities, I preferred “Red Wolves,” but team president Jason Wright eliminated Red Wolves due to someone else having the trademark. So why even make “Red Wolves,” or any of the other names a possibility when people are going to want one of those names and it won’t be the name in the first place?

This is an example of a team outsmarting themselves in order to try and fool those in the public who will try to figure out the name. By having so many possibilities, it would create intrigue and get people to guess as to what the team name could be, but all it did was get people excited that it could be something they weren’t going to pick anyway.

And they couldn’t even keep their new name hidden from the public. Back when the finalists were revealed, an unblurred photo of the Commanders logo surfaced. Last week, someone discovered the domain name was registered by the company that registers the domain names of most NFL teams. And then the day before the reveal, Joe Theismann revealed the name, and a news helicopter found the name at FedEx Field, so they didn’t do such a great job keeping the Commanders name under wraps.

Because of social media, any new name was going to be hated by many people

Let’s face it- does it really matter what name was chosen? At some point, it doesn’t matter because a loud sector of the fanbase and general sports world are going to be vocal about hating whatever name was picked.

And that isn’t to say those people’s opinions aren’t valid. They certainly are. “Commanders” is a terrible name for the reasons previously mentioned, but let’s not act like it’s the worst-ever team name in the NFL.

Look at the Green Bay Packers. They’re named after the meat-packing company that first sponsored them 100 years ago. Imagine if the Commanders sold their team naming rights to the highest bidder and became the “Washington Budweisers.”

Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re named after the steel mill industry that was once the steel capital of the world. Imagine if the Commanders named their team the “Washington Politicians,” something D.C. is best known for.

Look at the Cleveland Browns. They’re named after Paul Brown, the co-founder and first head coach. Imagine if the Commanders named their team the “Washington Snyders.”

Not to mention, imagine the crap storm (pun intended) if the Cleveland Browns were introduced in 2022. A team that may have been named after the head coach, but is also not only named after a color, but named after the color of poop. A team being named the “Browns” in 2022 would’ve been the ultimate botched branding in the history of marketing, but because they became a team in 1946, the vast majority of us have been used to this name because it’s been involved in football our entire lives.

I’m not trying to say the Washington Commanders is a great name, because it isn’t. The thing is, we’re so used to other team names that if some of these same names were a part of a rebranding in today’s age, it would’ve had a far worse reaction than what the Washington Commanders got this week.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp