WFT learned lessons from Cleveland's recent name change


Seven months after Cleveland announced its baseball team will be renamed, the organization announced Guardians on July 23 as the new moniker starting with the 2022 season.

A year and a month removed from Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder announcing the organization's former name would be retired, new president Jason Wright and company are only now deciding between three finalists. 

That's a stark contrast in timelines for two clubs going through the same issue as they look forward to a new era distinct from the Native-American names and logos they have long used. Both have emphasized the importance of fan feedback during the process, and Wright talked on the lessons learned from Cleveland's quick turnaround that including a rollout featuring a Tom Hanks-narrated video reveal. 

"Yeah I think the Guardians, they have a really good business team, and we talked to them at different points in this process," Wright said on his Thursday afternoon appearance on the Grant and Danny show. "And so I know what they're thinking and they're super smart." 

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Asked specifically about some of the things he learned as Cleveland beat the Burgundy and Gold to the punch, Wright remained coy, however.  

"And we've learned a lot. Some of the things I won't share on-air because I think some of the things I've learned and in seeing how their process rolled out materially affects the way we do things," said Wright. "And it's not worth sharing publicly because it could hinder (our process)." 

Down to the final three names in WFT's decision-making process, Wright said he's excited for what his marketing team has been preparing behind the scenes before the eventual big reveal early next year. 

The one takeaway Wright did disclose about the Guardians reveal could be of some comfort to Burgundy and Gold fans wanting a name that reflects the history of the storied franchise. 

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"I think the biggest thing they did that was important was that they went with something that they believe was authentic to Cleveland," Wright said. "They have the same mix of reactions from fans that I expect we will have when we roll out our new name, logo, etc. But the way that they did it did have some meaningful tie -- the way we talk about having a meaningful tie to the area and to the history of this team, something that feels something traditional, grit and all that stuff."

Wright also confirmed that just because the new name was narrowed down to three names, the timeline hasn't been pushed up, meaning the Washington Football Team won't have its new permanent name until at least ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Aside from that, Wright said his team is still welcoming ideas about the new name rollout. 

"They had their own criteria and they held to that," Wright said. "I think more than anything they can thank that in the long run as people get over the initial reaction that's going to be a unifying factor for them. So my hat's off (to them)."

Tune into NBC Sports Washington at 7PM to watch their second preseason game against the Bengals. 

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