Pro sports teams that changed their name without changing cities


The Washington Football Team officially announced that a new name will accompany the Burgundy & Gold on Feb. 2. Less than a month from now, a new football identity will be forged in the nation's capital.

But when WFT does reveal its new moniker, it won't be the first professional sports team to do so without changing locations. Heck, they wouldn't even be the first D.C. sports team to do so.

Several teams in the major North American sports leagues have decided to go different ways with their mascots for a variety of different reasons. Most recently, the Cleveland MLB team changed its name from the Indians to the Guardians. The new name just became official on Nov. 19, 2021, though, so their first game as the Guardians will take place on Opening Day 2022.

Here are some other franchises who have changed their names in the past, but remained in their host cities:

1997: Washington Bullets --> Washington Wizards

Bullets/Wizards owner Abe Pollin decided to change his team's name in 1995 after the name had become associated with violent overtones amidst rising crime in Washington D.C. at the time. 

Pollin held a contest for fans to vote on the team's new name. The options were Wizards, Express, Stallions, Sea Dogs and Dragons. Wizards eventually won out and the rest is history.

1999: Tennessee Oilers --> Tennessee Titans

When the Oilers moved to Tennessee after nearly 40 years in Houston, they kept the Oilers name going. However, they quickly changed over to the Titans after two seasons and it's been that way ever since. In the first year using the Titans moniker, Tennessee went to the Super Bowl. 

2006: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim --> Anaheim Ducks

Not a huge change, but the Anaheim Ducks completely rebranded their look and won a Stanley Cup right after. Not too bad a move, even though we all miss the iconic Mighty Ducks look.

2008: Tampa Bay Devil Rays --> Tampa Bay Rays

In an attempt to reinvent themselves, the Rays dropped the "Devil" portion of their name and immediately won a pennant. The mid-to-late 2000s weren't a bad time to make a brand change. 

2013: New Orleans Hornets --> New Orleans Pelicans

Under new ownership, the Hornets changed their name to the Pelicans as they embarked on a new era led by Anthony Davis. It also freed up our next franchise to reclaim its rightful name. 

2014: Charlotte Bobcats --> Charlotte Hornets

When the Hornets moved to New Orleans and Charlotte started another team named the Bobcats, it just didn't feel right. So when the Pelicans rebranded themselves, the Hornets name was up for grabs and Charlotte wasted no time taking it back. 

2020: Washington Redskins --> Washington Football Team

The Burgundy & Gold officially dropped the controversial 'Redskins' moniker in July 2020 after widespread pressure from activists and sponsors. After 88 years with one name, football in D.C. changed forever. Their first season with the new name was a good one, though, as Ron Rivera led the squad to an NFC East title.

2021: Cleveland Indians--Cleveland Guardians

After over a century as the Indians, the Cleveland MLB team dropped the name in December 2020. When the pro baseball season begins in 2022, the Guardians will take the field in Ohio. The last game the squad played as the Indians was a good one. They defeated the Texas Rangers 6-0 on Oct. 3, 2021.

2022: Washington Football Team --> ???

And here we are. The organization will announce its new name on Feb. 2 of this year. While we don't know what the new name will be, we do know for sure that one particular fan favorite -- the Wolves / Redwolves--is officially OUT. Several other nicknames, like the Redtails and Commanders, have been suggested as possibilities, but we won't know for sure until the day comes. No final list has been announced. Whatever the new name ends up being, winning games is likely the only thing that will truly win over the fanbase. 

Contact Us