Ted Leonsis on ‘Redskins,’ ‘Bullets’ and ‘Wizards’

February 11, 2013

I don’t think I’ve ever asked a single newsmaker type about a single team name, in any sport, but these name things appear to be popular questions. Ted Leonsis answered at least four questions about changing team names during his appearance on WMAL last week, and the conversation quickly shifted from the name of the Redskins to the name of the Wizards.

Host: “If you were Dan Snyder, do you think you would consider changing the name of the Redskins to something else?”

Leonsis: “You know, I can’t put myself in someone else’s shoes.”

Host: “Well, if it were you, what would you do?”

Leonsis: “Well, I have my own issue, right? Half the people want us to change the name from the Wizards back to the Bullets, and the other half say don’t you dare ever do something like that. And so these are very, very emotional issues. I do think that they get blown somewhat out of proportion. We’re just focused right now on trying to make our team a high performer. We can address the name of the team another time. That’s kind of a small issue for us right now.”

Host: “Are you considering [going back to the Bullets], though?”

Leonsis: “Well, we have taken it under advisement. We’ve done a lot of research on that issue. You know, it’s a major re-design, and it honestly does take about two years if you were to change the name. And so what we elected to do in the short term was to change the look and the feel – which we did last season – of the uniforms and of our design, and go back to that red, white and blue. And I think for the time being, that’s all we’ll do. But yeah, I mean, I’m open to that. Many fans have suggested it. And I’ve just felt that it’s like a cheap thrill, to change the name back. You’ll get half of the people that would say, Yes! I’m so happy that you did that, but it would also activate another 50 percent of the fan base to say, How could you do that? Mr. Pollin and the family changed the name for all of the right reasons. And so with all that’s going on with the team, I thought it best just to kind of calm the waters and do nothing, and just focus on trying to rebuild the team and make the team a high-performing team.”

Host: “I get that, but as an owner, you must have some sympathy for what Dan Snyder is going through with all this discussion about the Redskins?”

Leonsis: “Well, I do have sympathy. I mean, Dan bought a team, an established franchise, an established brand. And the brand is very, very popular. And why this has become such a political issue….He’s got to make his own decision based on their own research. But it’s not something that I should be giving anyone advice [on]; I have my own problems to deal with.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod | February 11, 2013