The Washington Football Team continues to scrub away its past, this time renaming two roads -- one outside its stadium and another at its practice facility -- in honor of Sean Taylor and Joe Gibbs.
The organization renamed the road leading into its practice facility Coach Gibbs Drive. The previous franchise nickname had been in use since its Ashburn, Virginia, site was built in 1992. One road leading into FedEx Field also used the name. That particular stretch now will be known as Sean Taylor Road.
Gibbs, who arrived in Washington in 1981, turned Washington from a franchise that contended for playoff spots to one that won Super Bowls. Washington played in four Super Bowls and won three during his first tenure, which lasted through the 1992 season. He later returned and coached Washington from 2004 to 2007, helping the franchise reach the playoffs twice. Washington's last playoff win was under Gibbs in 2005. Gibbs is in the Hall of Fame.
Taylor was Gibbs' first draft pick in his second stint, the fifth overall pick in 2004. Taylor was killed in 2007 -- he was shot by intruders while in his Florida home with his wife -- at a time when teammates and coaches say he was becoming the consistent force at safety that they had always anticipated. Multiple current safeties, including Washington's Landon Collins, speak of his impact on their own games. Collins wore Taylor's No. 21 when he played in New York. That number has not been given out in Washington since Taylor died.
"Oh, man, it's amazing," safety Landon Collins said of honoring Taylor. "You remember the guy who gave his heart, his life, everything to this team, this sport. It's a blessing to remember a person that did everything for this organization."
Collins, who signed with Washington in March 2019, said "it's almost out of this world" to play for the same team Taylor played for. "I get to play this game and play for the team my favorite player used to play for. It's a dream come true. Always."
It's yet another move for the franchise in distancing itself from its former name. The team is still in the process of removing all the logos and links to the past at FedEx Field. There's a plaque with the franchise's Ring of Fame members in one entrance that includes the old logo and the name. There were some areas of the concourse that still had the former name.
But the team had removed all the Ring of Fame honorees, whose names were adorned on signs surrounding the field. There was no reference to the old name visible from the seats. After announcing it would be called the Washington Football Team, the organization said it had hoped to have all of the former logos and name erased by the Sept. 13 season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Earlier this summer, before announcing it would retire its former name, the team decided to remove former owner George Preston Marshall from the Ring of Fame. He was the last NFL owner to integrate his franchise and did so only under pressure in the early 1960s from the federal government, lest he lose the federally owned land on which his new stadium had been built.
A statue of Marshall outside RFK Stadium, where the team used to play, was taken down in late spring as well.
Washington has been the focus of two Washington Post stories this summer detailing past issues of sexual harassment. The NFL is now overseeing an independent investigation into the allegations.
The organization also hired Jason Wright as the first Black team president in the NFL and Julie Donaldson as its senior vice president of media and communications; she'll be the first woman to be part of the radio broadcast booth.