Opinion: Washington Commanders already need to retool their shoddy 'crest'

Nate Davis
USA TODAY

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Football Team, known by another – infamous – name for 87 of the franchise's 90 seasons (and Boston Braves for one), finally unveiled a long-awaited rebrand Wednesday.

More infamy seems likely to follow. 

Twitter may not be the most accurate canary in the coal mine, but its legion of users were largely unkind to the "Commanders" reveal – including what seemed like a chunk of the club's fan base.

Unscientific polling of my Gen-X Washingtonian friends, who have supported this team since its heyday in the 1980s, revealed apoplectic reaction and disbelief that a two-year process to reboot the organization birthed ... this.

(And, as a U.S. Army veteran, I can only hope Washington hasn't disenfranchised its significant legion of itinerant military supporters by aligning with a rank – commander – unique to the Navy, but I digress.)

Navigating trademark issues, focus groups, historical considerations and the like is no easy task. Still, the leaks – accurate as it turned out – on social media in recent weeks and from former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann on Monday left many hoping "Commanders" might be an elaborate ruse as opposed to a soft launch that gave fans time to adapt.

That brings me to Washington's problematic "crest."

I fancy myself as something of a league historian and most certainly a uniform aficionado. The Commanders are touting their "crest" as, "A unique brand element within the NFL, Washington’s crest features core elements of the team’s identity and the franchise’s defining moments."

Uh huh. It's a soccer logo, y'all. Barf. I thought as we moved off "WFT," we'd steer away from soccer, but no such luck.

But, hey, even if you embrace such a thing – we Gen-Xers generally disavow soccer – I'd also submit this "crest" is screwed up.

Maybe you like the whole "Est. 1932" thing. (As Nicolas Cage's character uttered in "The Rock," a 1996 classic, "You know, I like history too, and maybe when this is all over you and I can stop by the souvenir shop together, but right now I just... I just wanna find some rockets!")

Maybe you like the three stars in the bottom left quadrant, "representative of the stars on the DC flag and the team’s position within the Nation’s Capital." Sure, maybe, though this looks a lot more like Tennessee's state flag – reference the Titans' logo – than the District of Columbia's.

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A Washington Commanders logo is displayed at an event to unveil the NFL football team's new identity, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Landover, Md.

But what's really dumb are the five years noted in the crest's border. It will become untenable if the Commanders go full-on Patriots and render the font inscrutable with more championships, but that's an issue for the people of the 22nd (23rd?) century. What's really dismaying is, in addition to noting 1937 and 1942 – years when Washington earned NFL titles – that 1983, 1988 and 1992 are also listed.

Sigh. 

Yes, Washington technically won Super Bowls in the calendar years 1983, 1988 and 1992. But the teams that did the heavy lifting were the 1982, 1987 and 1991 editions.

Ever heard anyone cite the excellence of the undefeated '72 Dolphins ... who won Super Bowl 7 in 1973? Do they call them the '85 Bears or the '86 Bears ... because the 1985 team won Super Bowl 20 in 1986. The NFL defines the Super Bowl era as beginning in 1966, the season that led to what's became known as Super Bowl 1 ... which was played in 1967. 

Need I go on?

While celebrating the NFL's 100th season two years ago and compiling a list of the league's 100 best teams, I ranked Washington's 1991 juggernaut No. 6 – and fans will correctly tell you it's an underrated squad, perhaps forgotten while wedged amid the 1980s 49ers and 1990s Cowboys dynasties.

Quoting me on the Super Bowl 26 champions: "After going 14-2 and outscoring their foes by 261 points in the regular season, they swept through the playoffs with an average margin of victory better than 20 points. The only Washington team to win a Super Bowl in a non-strike season, these underappreciated (former name) would have gone all the way in most years. They topped 40 points five times and blanked three teams, so excellent balance."

Again, predominantly in 1991.

The 1982 and '87 champs were synonymous with nasty league work stoppages but deserve credit for navigating such challenges to the Lombardi mountaintop.

Washington's 1983 team? One of the best in franchise history – but  surprisingly drilled 38-9 by the LA Raiders in Super Bowl 18.

Washington's 1988 team? Missed the playoffs.

Washington's 1992 team? Lost in the postseason divisional round, and then coach Joe Gibbs retired (the first time).

So, time for somebody to commandeer this rebrand ... and do more rebranding?

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Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.