There's a ton of upheaval occurring within the halls of the Washington Football Team, one of the biggest evidenced by the fact I just called them the Washington Football Team. The name change from the age-old mascot many viewed as a racial slur aimed at Native Americans is far from the only controversy owner Dan Snyder finds himself in the grips of, but there are glimmers of positivity trying their hardest to peek through the storm clouds, one being the naming of Jason Wright as president of the organization; and another coming in the form of honoring two football greats -- Joe Gibbs and the late Sean Taylor.
On Tuesday, the club announced it will rename streets leading into the team's headquarters as a salute to both.
"The Washington Football Team today announced plans to update street names closely associated with the organization after two of its most respected former leaders and members of Washington's Ring of Fame, legendary safety Sean Taylor and Hall of Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs. Moving forward, a main street leading right to an entrance of FedExField in Landover, MD will be known as Sean Taylor Road and the mailing address for the franchise headquarters, and the Inova Sports Performance Center, in Ashburn, VA will change to 21300 Coach Gibbs Drive.
"Along with the changing of all in-stadium signage at FedExField, these physical updates are the first of many planned as part of the organization's large-scale rebrand, ushering in a new era for football in Washington while honoring the contributions of many who helped build the storied franchise. Each street will be officially renamed prior to the team's 2020 season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 13th. The team's practice facility will continue to be known as the Inova Sports Performance Center."
Snyder also issued an official statement on the changes.
"The renaming of these streets along with all of the changes being made to our stadium are just part of our long-term goal of improving every element of the Washington Football Team, both off and on the field," he said.
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, hit the ground running in Washington, and landed two Pro Bowl honors and an All-Pro nod for the work done in his three seasons -- the first player in NFL history to earn the awards posthumously. One of the best safeties in the sport at the time, and now recognized by many as one of the best to ever play the position, Taylor was once labeled by Sports Illustrated as the hardest-hitting player in the NFL, but his career and life was cut short when he was murdered in Miami in 2007 during a botched robbery attempt. Taylor lives on in both the team's Ring of Honor and the hearts of Washington fans everywhere.
For his part, Gibbs made it known just how humbled he is by the honor. The former head coach is an icon in Washington, and spent two stints as the team's leader. His first stretch went from 1981 through 1992, and includes all three of the team's Super Bowl victories. He would revisit with a four-year stay in the 2000s that again turned the organization around and put them in the playoffs, deepening his legacy in the nation's capital.
"It is an amazing honor to have the organization's mailing address carry my name," said Gibbs. "My time with the team was marked by the strength and courage of our players and assistant coaches, both of whom deserve so much of the credit for the franchise winning three Super Bowl titles. Each of those winning seasons started with the preparation and dedication of practices and workouts at our training facility in the off-season. I had total support from Dan during my four years and I want to thank Dan and Tanya for their friendship to Pat and me.
"The organization has made several positive steps recently to include the additions of Jason Wright as president and Julie Donaldson as senior vice president of media, and content that will strengthen the team and support of Coach Rivera. Ron has already gained the respect from the players and all of us Washington fans."
And now there won't be anyone who drives up to the Washington headquarters without being reminded of the contributions of Gibbs and Taylor to both the organization and the game of football.