Training camp will be full of changes for the Washington Football Team, and one of the more subtle, yet impactful differences will be on the backs of players' jerseys. Rather than displaying players' last names, the word "team" will be written on every practice jersey and shirt in order to build unity throughout the roster.
"I want everyone to focus in on what what we're trying to do, which is develop a team," head coach Ron Rivera told Washington Football Team staff writer Zach Selby. "One of the things I've learned that helps you do that is to get everyone to understand it's not about who you are an individual, but who you are as a teammate."
The decision, which was made when Rivera first came to Washington in January, is part of the head coach's efforts to "do everything we can" to reiterate and reinforce a team-first mentality with the players. Rivera wanted to make it clear that "this is the best thing for us."
The message echoes what Rivera said during his introductory press conference. The best team has a great sense of family, he said, and the best family has a sense of culture and character.
"That's what we've got to build. We've got to build that. We've got to build character, we've got to build culture, we've got to build team, we've got to build family. If we can do that, we can win."
The Washington Football team conducts training camp at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia, on July 29, 2020.
Rivera later added that "everyone in the building" will feel the team-first culture he is trying to build.
"More than anything else, this is not about me," he said. "This is about us as an organization, us as a team. I think if we stay true to us, we have a chance."
Rivera hopes that the decision will send a message to the players that they have to "earn the right to be a part of our team."
"We're going to go with this for a while," Rivera said. "And then, as we start getting into certain phases of football, then we'll start seeing the names showing up again."
Rivera has always respected the franchise's rich history, and he hopes the "team" practice jerseys and shirts will make fans feel like they're part of the sustainable, winning culture he wants to establish. Moving forward, Rivera believes the Washington Football Team is "our team."
Rivera sees an opportunity to establish and build a new era of football in Washington, but the only way to do that is by moving away from individual accomplishments and focusing on what matters most: the team.
"We've got to reestablish who we are as an organization. We establish who we are as a football team. And that's really what I want these guys to take as we go forward into the 2020 season."