An ocelot in Brazils Itatiba Zoos Itatiba Zoo
An ocelot in Brazils Itatiba Zoos Itatiba Zoo Credit: João Carlos Medau/Wikimedia Commons

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I made a terrible mistake. While writing about the local NFL team’s potential new name, I argued for things that had a tie to the team’s past. I settled on Hogs, but I acknowledged that people were looking for a name that scans in the fight song (so two syllables), keeps the hashtag viable (so starts with “R”), and ties to the team’s tradition and, for some reason, the military (something vaguely Native American but with plausible deniability, and also military-ish).

I also freely admit that every time I’ve imagined hypothetical new uniforms to go with the hypothetical new name, I’ve pictured those uniforms in some variation of burgundy and gold. (I’ve considered the possibility of adding an accent color to mark the new era, but burgundy and gold were always the bases.)

But I’ve also spent literally years writing columns about how toxic nostalgia is, and how the team has needed to distance itself from its past, not keep celebrating it. So I’m not sure why I did a full 180 in recommending Hogs. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more wrong I think I was.

The front-runners at the moment, per this NBC Sports Washington poll, are Warriors, Redhawks, Redtails, and Redwolves. Leaving aside Warriors, which is bland to the point of awfulness, these are all names that people can sing with the old fight song. But as a Twitter user pointed out in response to that piece, no one is going to use the new name if the old song is playing.

Which means the song has to go, too.

And the two-syllable names starting with “Red” should probably be out of the running.

Because if you give people any angle to not change, they won’t. They will cling to the last vestiges of the old name and claim that it’s out of heritage or pride, but it will really be out of spite.

So I’m going with Ocelots. I originally joked about Washington Aardvarks, but there are two syllables in aardvark. Ocelot is three syllables, starts with “O,” and refers to a cat native to the American southwest that has no discernible ties to the D.C. area. It is simply a cool-sounding word with an animal mascot that can sever all ties to the team’s history.

Most important, “Ocelot” was the name of a U.S. Navy ship in World War II, so it has the military tie that is (for some reason) absolutely essential to the football team’s new name.