MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

So Washington Football Team announces its new team name on Wednesday, which is Groundhog Day, which led some of us (led by me) to believe the new name would be something like Red Hogs or Warthogs, because, given the clever ways of Football Team’s diminutive owner Daniel Snyder, we were looking for a clever tie-in with Groundhog Day.

After all, the history of professional football in Washington (even though the current team is headquartered in Virginia and plays its home games in Maryland) has been highlighted by hogs, as the Hogs, the offensive line that led the team to four Super Bowls and three Super Bowl titles in less than 10 years is likely the most famous offensive line in the history of professional football, and, collectively, was likely the very best offensive line in the history of professional football over the course of 10 years.

The Hogs gave offensive linemen everywhere, at every level, identity; notoriety, and they helped make the team, then named the Redskins, the very best franchise in the NFL.

It may still be something-Hogs on Wednesday, who knows? But the word from the most in-the-know media types in the D.C. area is the new team name will be Commanders – the Washington Commanders, as in Washington Junior High/Washington Middle School, Massachusetts Ave., Cumberland, Md.

When the new junior high schools were built in Cumberland in the 1960s, they were named after George Washington and Major General Edward Braddock for obvious reasons if you ever bothered to follow history, and the Washington Junior High/Middle School nickname was and remains the Commanders, because Washington was a commander when he served here during the French and Indian War under Braddock, who, apparently, wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Although he did lead his forces to cut a road westward from Cumberland, the first road across the Allegheny Mountains.

Maybe you’re familiar with it. It’s called Braddock Road.

I’ll be curious to see what the new name will be. Having seen the teaser video Football Team put out on social media a couple of weeks ago, the new uniform will still be burgundy and gold with stars in the trim, so it would make sense if the new name will be something with a military theme. Mind you, I’ve known some star hogs in my time, but I’ve never seen a hog wear stars, you know?

Commanders was just one of the military names put up for consideration – Admirals, Generals, Presidents and Sentinels having been some of the other ones. We’ll see. I guess we’ll see on Wednesday, but none other than man-in-the-real-know (for a reason) Joe Theismann has already admitted on a D.C. radio interview that it’s likely to be Commanders.

And that’s fine, although I was partial to Football Team from the beginning and really could have gotten into Football Club. Then again, I really like Red Tails, which would pay homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC), a precursor of the U.S. Air Force.

Red Tails would work on many fronts: it’s historic, it’s military (see the stars on the uniform), it would be an appropriate tribute following the franchise’s previous racist nickname and it would fit nicely into the team’s fight song – Hail to the Red Tails! Hail, Victory!

Yet, once again, I was not consulted, which is fine. I’m used to it …

All of which took me back to when the Baltimore Ravens, formerly the Cleveland Browns, were named in early 1996. The name Ravens made, and makes, perfect sense as it is a modern-day legacy for a mythical bird in the famous poem, The Raven, written by Edgar Allan Poe, who did some of his best writing and drinking in Baltimore, and who is buried in Baltimore.

There were many other names in the hunt for the then-new Baltimore NFL team at that time beginning with – wait for it – Colts.

Yes, it could have been Baltimore Colts again, which, in theory, would have seemed wonderful and right. But Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, the son of Robert Irsay, the heel who moved the Colts out of Baltimore in the middle of a March 1984 night, wanted $25 million to $50 million for the rights. Baltimore owner Art Modell thought $5 million was more reasonable and soon told young Irsay to take a powder.

So, there was then Baltimore Bombers, trademarked for Baltimore during the expansion derby in 1993 that Jacksonville somehow won. Bombers would have honored the B-26, a storied bomber built at the Glenn L. Martin factory near Baltimore from 1940 to 1945, but after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and Jaffa Road bus bombings in Israel in 1996, Bombers fell out of contention.

There was Baltimore Marauders, yet another tribute to Baltimore’s aviation history; Baltimore Americans, for a locomotive built in Baltimore, the birthplace of the nation’s railroad industry; Baltimore Railers, another train homage; Baltimore Steamers; Baltimore Mustangs; Baltimore Bulldogs; and Baltimore Rhinos, which I had no idea what connection it had to Baltimore, or Maryland, but I liked just the same.

Safe to say, Ravens has worked out pretty well. It’s as natural off the tongue and in the psyche as Orioles is, which is likely what Commanders, or whatever the new Washington team name will be. Provided, of course, the team wins.

The Ravens franchise, a pillar in the Baltimore and Maryland community, has consistently won on the field as well. With Dan Snyder’s bunch … Well, not so much. And that hasn’t even been the most embarrassing storyline of the current ownership tenure of this franchise.

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