Commanders owner Josh Harris shuts down idea team will go back to former name: 'That ship has sailed'

The Washington Commanders franchise has undergone a significant amount of change over the past several months.

Daniel Snyder’s controversial ownership officially came to an end, Eric Bieniemy took over the team’s offense, and roster was turned over. A group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris officially closed a record-breaking deal to purchase the Commanders in July.

Washington’s highly-anticipated first regular season under Harris is just around the corner, and the Commanders’ new owner expressed excitement about opening a new chapter for the franchise. 

“I can’t tell you how excited I am about Sunday. I obviously won’t be sleeping too much between now and then. [It’s] a big day for the franchise, big day for us. And we’ve got to make sure a lot of things go right for the fans,” Harris said during an appearance on WTOP radio.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, looks on after presenting Washington Commanders controlling owner Josh Harris with his new team’s helmet after the NFL owners  voted to approve the purchase of the team to Harris’s group in special meeting at the JW Marriott Hotel on July 20, 2023, in Bloomington, Minnesota.   (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Commanders currently play just outside Washington, D.C., at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Harris is a Maryland native and said he was thankful for all the support the fans have given over the past couple of months.

“No one could have anticipated the outpouring of support from Washington and from the DMV. The fans have been amazing. The city has been amazing,” Harris said. “We really appreciate the support. We need the 12th man.”


The idea of the franchise reverting to is former name has recently been floated, but that concept has been shut down by the Harris ownership group.

Earlier this week, Mitchell Rales, a partner in the ownership group, said the “Redskins” name would not be restored.

Commanders logo on field

The Washington Commanders logo on the field before the game between the Washington Commanders and the Cleveland Browns at FedEx Field on January 1, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

“That ship has sailed,” said Rales on Wednesday at an event for the Economic Club in Washington.

 “We’re not going to re-litigate the past. We’re about the future. We’re about building the future and not having a divisive culture that we’re engaged in. We’re going to look at everything come the end of the year and think about a lot of different things and do a lot of testing and see what people think. And we’ll learn. The beauty is we have the time to look at all of this stuff intelligently and make fan-based decisionsThe.”

Josh Harris speaks as new owner

The Commanders’ new owner Josh Harris addresses a gathering including players in the front row at FedEx field to celebrate the new ownership of the team on July 21, 2023, in Landover, Maryland. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

On Friday, Harris acknowledged that the name was disrespectful to some fans. He also mentioned that the focus should be on football — not the team’s controversial former name.

“I grew up in the glory years, and I remember the team from that era and worshipped it, but the old name . . . some of our fans felt disrespected by it, and sports is supposed to unify people,” Harris told 7News in Washington.

“I didn’t want the distraction, so we came out and we hopefully ended that conversation and  got the focus back on football, where it should be.”


Jason Wright, the Commanders’ president, also closed the door on the team’s former name. “It is not being considered,” Wright said last week during an appearance on 106.7 the Fan. “Period.”

Washington kicks off a new era on September 10, when the team hosts the Arizona Cardinals. 

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