Will Washington’s football team ever get it right?
Written by Patrick Hruby | Published on
To the list of epochally bungled corporate rollouts—New Coke, the ESPN mobile phone, every time Facebook Meta has tried to get shareholders people excited about wearing big plastic goggles to attend work meetings set in the Wii Sports extended universe—add the Washington Commanders’ new mascot, Major, uh, Tuddy.
Introduced during halftime of last Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns—fittingly, a loss that eliminated the Commanders from playoff contention—Tuddy is a large, dabbing pig described by the team as a “male hog with exaggerated features that are anatomically similar to the animal, including a large belly, snout, and cloven hooves,” which is a totally normal and not-at-all-weird amount of anatomical foot detail to share, especially given that Tuddy’s costume features oversize shoes.
But we digress! Meant to pay homage to “The Hogs,” the franchise’s beloved offensive line from the 1980s and early 1990s, Tuddy has not exactly been embraced by fans, who quickly and thoroughly split-roasted the poor piglet online and in a NBC4 poll. Frankly, it’s hard to blame them. In theory, sports mascots are fun and good. But in practice, Tuddy—like so many other Commanders things—can be filed under Bad Idea, Worse Execution. Here’s why:
Nobody asked for this
Once upon a time, the Commanders had an unofficial mascot—Zema Williams, a local man known as “Chief Zee” who wore a headdress and carried a tomahawk to games for nearly 40 years prior to his death in 2016.
Was Chief Zee a beloved and organic fan phenomenon? Yes. Was his costume—like the franchise’s former nickname—more than a little problematic? Also yes. When the Commanders finally, belatedly moved on from said nickname, did they need to create a new mascot in order to, like, sell some plushies or something? Absolutely not. The team could have simply left well enough alone, understanding that the only places Commanders fans desperately want to see new faces are: a) under center; b) in the owner’s box.
“Tuddy” is not a football term
The official Tuddy Fact Sheet explains that “Tuddy” is a “slang football term that evolved from the abbreviation of touchdown (TD) as in t = ‘tuh’ and d = ‘dee.’”
No. No. A thousand times no. While it’s true that touchdowns have long been called “TDs” within football, absolutely no one calls them “tuh-dees.” It is simply not a thing! If the Commanders wanted a punny mascot name connected to scoring, they could and should have rolled with something like “Major T.D.” Instead, they chose to linguistically gaslight the entire gridiron world. Weird flex? Or just plain dumb? When it comes the Commanders, both options are forever in play.
The costume design is nightmare fuel
Sports mascots basically adhere to two distinct aesthetics: cute n’ cuddly or fiery n’ fierce. With his big eyes and wide smile topped by furrowed eyebrows and what appears to be a WWI-style military helmet, Tuddy tries to do both. Bad idea. Combine that thematic dissonance with an overly anthropomorphic design that’s as Uncanny Valley as anything from the live-action Cats movie, and Tuddy has creepy, slasher-flick vibes—if he’s not silently holding a bloody knife while standing at the end of a long hallway, he’s definitely rubbing his belly as you let out a Wilhelm scream. Go ahead: Turn off your bathroom lights and say “Tuddy” three times out loud in front of your mirror. We dare you.
The actual Hogs are upset
What would the Commanders even be without the possibility of ugly, petty litigation? According to Front Office Sports, the franchise may be facing a legal fight with five legendary former players—including John Riggins, Joe Jacoby, and Rick “Doc” Walker—over their choice of a hog mascot. DCist explains:
Tuddy’s hog-ness is supposed to pay homage to the original “Hogs,” a group of offensive linemen who led the team to three Super Bowls in the 1980s and early 1990s. Ahead of Tuddy’s unveiling and a concordant celebration of the franchise’s iconic squad on Sunday, the “Hogs” (Joe Jacoby, Mark May, John Riggins, Fred Dean, and Doc Walker) … [accused the team and owner Dan Snyder] of profiting off their legacy without adequate compensation.
“Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders are trying to profit off the original HOGS legacy by taking that trademark and associated goodwill and brand equity of the original HOGS,” reads a Dec. 26 release from O-Line Entertainment, the firm representing the Hogs, who plan on obtaining a federal trademark in 2023. “The original HOGS do not want to be associated with the Commanders under its current ownership and management and require that their legacy and brand is protected.”
Unlike the Commanders, billable hours remain undefeated.
The timing is typically terrible
Plagued by scandal, dogged by multiple investigations, and almost universally loathed by locals and across the NFL, Snyder is reportedly exploring selling the Commanders—and perhaps pulling a reverse Prince Harry by escaping to England. While both would be welcome developments, they also would put Tuddy in an even tougher position as an unwanted holdover, introduced as a marketing gimmick in the last-gasp dying days of an unpopular regime. If Snyder truly is serious about peace-ing out, then the franchise should have waited for him to depart before rolling out a new mascot—the better to avoid any residual stink for something that already gets pretty smelly.