The Washington NFL franchise is going through an offseason of change. On Wednesday, the Washington Football Team announced their new name: the Washington Commanders. With the rebrand comes new jerseys, new logos, new garb and a renewed sense of optimism for a franchise that needs it. This offseason is important for the leaders of the Commanders, such as defensive end Chase Young.
The former Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year burst onto the scene in 2020. He led all rookies in sacks (7.5), tackles for loss (10) and tied for first in forced fumbles (4). The second NFL season wasn't as kind to Young, however. The Ohio State star recorded just 1.5 sacks in nine games played before tearing his ACL, which prematurely ended his 2021 campaign. This offseason he's refocused, and wants to return better than ever.
"It's going great," Young told CBS Sports when asked about his rehab. "I already squatted 225 (pounds), I'm already one-leg squatting. It's going great. You know, the process was definitely humbling, but I'm excited to go through it just to see what type of person I'm going to be on the other side."
Young said this trial has taught him about inner-strength and work ethic. He's even been talking to other athletes about how to handle his ACL recovery.
"I'm a lot stronger than I thought," said Young. "I've never had an injury like this before, and I know what it's going to take to get back. I've talked to Thomas Davis and other people who have torn their ACLs. Some people not just once, but multiple times. I'm ready to take on that challenge and come back even better."
This week was special for Young, as Washington announced its rebrand to Commanders. Young was aware of what the organization was trying to do in the process, and said it was unique to be part of something like this.
"It was really cool," Young said. "I remember even before the season they threw us a few names and asked the leaders on the team what we thought. They were just getting ideas and things like that, so it started pretty early. But you know, I feel like it's a pretty unique situation. A situation I can say 30 years from now that nobody else has been through but the people on our team."
Young wasn't always a fan of the name "Commanders," but he said that it has grown on him, especially with the new jerseys and everything that came with the rebrand.
"It grew on me just seeing the jerseys and everything that we are going to stand for with the name, knowing we're from D.C.," Young said. "It definitely grew on me, so I'm ready to go out there and be a Commander, and we're going to be commanding -- know that!"
Young was chosen to be a model for the Washington uniform reveal, and he is proud about how the photos turned out.
"I always liked our jerseys, always loved our colors even since I was a young kid," Young said. "But the alternate black jerseys, that's probably my favorite. I loved the white jersey I had on and that Burgundy jersey I love. On the regular away game, that white jersey is nice, it's crisp, man."
The future of Washington football is here #TakeCommand pic.twitter.com/MwkCLTkVAA— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) February 2, 2022
This week belonged to the Commanders, but next week belongs to the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. Super Bowl LVI is the first Super Bowl matchup that does not feature any of the top three seeds in either conference. Will Joe Burrow establish himself as the next great quarterback by winning a ring in his second season? Or will Matthew Stafford solidify his legacy with a ring in his first season away from Detroit? Young will be at the Super Bowl, and he's gifting someone special a couple of tickets as well; Captain Darryl Griffing received two tickets to Super Bowl LVI from Young as a thank you for his service.
"You know my ties to the military, my grandfather," said Young, whose grandfather served in the Air Force. "The military -- I always want to stay in contact, I always want to have something to do with them. I teamed up with USAA and the National Guard Association, and we are going to send Captain Darryl Griffing to the Bowl. He's been deployed in Afghanistan, Germany, he's a real dude."
My grandfather served in the military, so it's an honor to team up with @USAA and @NGAUS1878 to provide 2 tix to #SuperBowlLVI to Captain Darryl Griffing in honor of his service to our country #SaluteToService #USAApartner pic.twitter.com/dinrl4nX6D— Chase Young (@youngchase907) February 3, 2022
While the NFL world is excited for this final matchup, Young hasn't given much thought to a Super Bowl prediction since his Commanders aren't involved.
"For real to be honest, I'm thinking about my rehab," Young said. "When we get there, that's the only time I'll really gonna be thinking about the game."
Being at the Super Bowl is just another experience that will motivate Young to help the newly named Commanders make it to the big game.
"It's going to be something that's hard to put in words," Young said about the possibility of getting to the Super Bowl. "Just knowing the whole history of Washington. Since I was born we haven't done what we have wanted to do. I just know the fan base and everybody is going to be ecstatic. It's going to be crazy."