MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

So we’re less than two weeks away from Groundhog Day, which, of course, is always a big thrill. Not at all, actually. I didn’t even like the movie.

However, around here it will be a rather somber Groundhog Day as, apparently, Western Maryland Murray, the Cumberland groundhog who, as far as we know, bit only one Cumberland mayor, has died. Thus, he will see no more shadows, as he is now in the shadows.

So, to honor the late Murray, the Downtown Cumberland Development Commission has announced a new mascot will be featured on the big day to, apparently, determine whether or not we have six more weeks of winter. Mum’s the word, however, on what type of mascot we will have, as it is a big secret.

Which, of course, brings us to the Washington Football Team …

Football Team announced last week that a new nickname and, perhaps, a new mascot will be unveiled on 2-2-22, which is Groundhog Day.

The franchise formerly known as the Redskins has already designed its new uniforms and its new brand and has decided on its new name, which, the football team that claims to be Washington, but practices, trains and is headquartered in Virginia, and plays its actual home games in Maryland, says is boffo.

Some of the potentially new team names said to be in the mix (and hold your applause, please, until they have all been introduced; then give them all one big hand) are Armada, Brigade, Defenders, Presidents, Sentinels, Admirals, Commanders, Redhawks, Red Hogs, Warthogs and who knows what else?

First of all, this can’t be an easy thing to do, picking a new team name; not after it has been something else for nearly a century. Don’t get me wrong, it has finally been the right thing to do, but it still can’t be easy to do – to find the best and coolest new name, that is.

A couple of the potentially new team names for WFT ring a bell for us here in Two Hours from Everywhere – Sentinels, of course, and Commanders.

When somebody around here says “Sentinels” we naturally think of Fort Hill High School – the Fort Hill Sentinels.

It’s a great name. It has worked here since 1936, after all, and long before that, fitting perfectly with our history as the forts here, Fort Hill and Fort Cumberland, were defended by sentinels. It’s very brave and it’s very noble, and goodness knows we could have used a heck of a lot more sentinels at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

But Washington Sentinels? I don’t think so. You hear “Washington Sentinels” and you immediately think of the movie “The Replacements,” which was very loosely based on the NFL replacement team of 1987 that helped Washington win its second Super Bowl championship.

The movie was basically filmed in Baltimore, but it was about Washington’s professional football team (not unlike real life) and, while semi-entertaining (particularly during late-night channel surfing), like “Draft Day,” it was far from the stuff of red carpets. Then again, that could make it a perfect fit for the current state of Franchise Dan Snyder.

Commanders? Yes, George Washington was a commander before he became the first president of the United States. And any and all of us who attended Washington Junior High School – now Washington Middle School – know this, because we will all go to the shadows with Murray as once and forever Washington Commanders.

Plus, George Washington actually did sleep here, as his former headquarters is still in downtown Cumberland. Nice digs, too …

At one time, had I bothered to pay attention, I could have known everything there was to know about George Washington, thanks to legendary 7th-grade Social Studies teacher, Miss Margaret Blake.

Miss Blake knew everything about teaching us how to color maps, slow dance with a girl (with God as my witness, that is true) and everything about George Washington and the time he spent here with us. In fact, she spearheaded our fundraising drive to change the silhouette of Commander Washington on our red and gray official school banner to match his silhouette when he was here commanding, rather than when he was president.

So, last I checked (which was 1973), rather than the Washington we see on the dollar bill, we see pony-tailed George Washington when he was Washington, the commander, leading the troops here in Cumberland.

Kind of a cool Grateful Dead look, actually.

So I’m certain the new name won’t be Sentinels. It won’t be Commanders, although anything military, I suppose, has a decent chance given the stars I saw on the new uniforms. It won’t be RedWolves, because the Minnesota Timberwolves apparently have all of the trademark rights on anything Wolves, and though my personal favorite remains Washington Football Team, or Washington Football Club, it’s not going to be the name pulled from the envelope either.

My feeling is the new name will have something to do with Hogs – hence, the grand announcement being on Groundhog Day. They’re so clever down there …

I believe it could be Washington Warthogs (I don’t know what a warthog is) or Washington Red Hogs.

Anything with Hogs can be made to have three-fold ties with the organization and its revisionist history. For beginners, with Warthogs or Red Hogs, the lyrics of the famed team fight song would fit to the point of being able to at least comfortably sing it, though it will probably make no sense.

Next, there is the Hogs, the most famous offensive line in NFL history. They might have been the greatest offensive line in the history of the game, leading the franchise to three Super Bowl championships (a long, long, long, long time ago).

Thirdly, and most appropriately, the ownership of this franchise for close to the past 30 years is swine. So, there’s that.

If you’re going to change it, and they are, change it from Football Team to Football Club. It’s subtle, it’s strong and it’s crisp. Plus, it will go over big in Europe, and since nobody goes to the Virginia-based team’s home games in Maryland, maybe another FC would be wholeheartedly embraced in Europe.

Or in Washington, D.C.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT