Schatz: The Washington Commanders? No. The Washington Hippos? Yes!
Olivia Schatz | Thursday, February 3, 2022
Seriously? The Commanders? After months of waiting, and waiting, and teasing five alternative options, they picked the Commanders. If you can’t already tell, I take my mascots and team names more seriously than I do actual football. What’s the point of supporting a team if they have no cute or quirky mascot to love along with it?
After a name change that was long overdue, the Washington team was presented with a golden opportunity: to rebrand in any way they want. And even after what they called a “very involved process,” they reemerged with the new worst name in the NFL.
Although I will never admit to my USC boyfriend that red and yellow look good together, the new Commander uniforms do look snazzy. In saying this, I am still incredibly upset that out of the seven choices they had, they ended up with Commanders. Yes, it does have certain ties to George Washington and Washington, D.C. But who cares about that? Do Bengals have any connection with Ohio? No. And look at their fanbase; they’re thriving.
You cannot convince me that the Red Wolves or the Red Hogs are not significantly better sounding (as well as a much cooler image) than the Commanders. Please.
All I know is that on my list of NFL teams, the Washington Commanders just plummeted to last. I am saying this with the Chargers, Texans and 49ers all in the same league. At this point, I’m not even sure Washington D.C. deserves a football team. Will I fight for their statehood? Yes. However, with that, I strip them of their football privileges.
In spite of that, I do believe they can redeem themselves. That is if, and only if, they pick the right mascot. It has come to my attention recently that not every team name and mascot are the same. For example, the Tennessee Titans have T-Rac the Racoon as their mascot and the Texans have Toro the bull as theirs. All I am saying is that there is in fact hope.
Now comes the hard part: choosing which animal should be the new mascot. The first thing I looked up was the D.C. state animal. While the wood thrush is a very cute small bird, it will not do as our new Commander mascot. Naturally, the next mascot that comes to mind is the eagle, but as we all already know Philly claimed that years ago.
At this point, I would argue for a random fun animal as their mascot, but in an interview earlier this month, Washington team president Jason Wright said “The other thing that we’ve heard clearly is that something random would land poorly. We need something that’s connected to the history of the club, or to the area, or to something else that is meaningful to the fanbase already, meaningful to the area, etcetera.”
Wright also said that their mascot needs “a sense of aggression, of boldness, of edginess. Not just on the field — they certainly want that on the field and I would say we have that, most certainly — but also in what we do off the field, in our marketing approach, in our off-field persona, in the way that we think about business operations and crafting the fan experience. We are a strong fanbase that is proud, that isn’t soft, that we like to think of ourselves a little bit rough around the edges, and I think that’s right. And those things need to be expressed in whatever identity we land on.”
It was here that I had my eureka moment.
Now, you might be thinking “Olivia, what does a hippo have to do with Washington D.C.?” Well, actually, a lot. More specifically, the hippopotamus is the beloved unofficial mascot of The George Washington University. The urban legend goes GW president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg loved antiquing, a hobby that his lovely wife hated. While antiquing in the Northeast, Trachtenberg found this large hippo statue, one that his wife refused to let him keep.
Thus, he gifted it to the class of 2000, with a plaque claiming that the Washingtons themselves used to watch hippos roam the Potomac. Whether or not any of this is true (the second half is most definitely a tall tale), it still makes for a fun story. The hippo statue now sits proudly outside of the GW campus in Foggy Bottom.
Checkbox number one — the hippo has a clear connection to the region! Now what about checkbox number two: aggression, boldness and edginess? It could just be me, but I am certain that a hippopotamus is aggressive, bold and edgy. On average, the hippo kills 500 people per year! I am not saying that Wright needs to pick the hippopotamus as their new mascot; I am rather heavily implying it. Without the hippo as their mascot, I simply do not think the Washington Commanders have a future. I predict their fanbase will disappear by the end of the year.