“Sell the team! Sell the team! Sell the team!”
Through the crowd noise and the announcer’s voice booming through the loudspeakers, through the music circulating the stands, it’s the chants of “Sell the team!” that power through the noisy ambience of FedExField.
For the past few seasons, those with the means to land a ticket to watch the Washington Commanders compete on their home turf could count on hearing that chant. Even those watching from the comfort of their own home were likely to hear the chants overpower the broadcast at some point during the game.
Joe Buck and Jim Nantz can probably confirm.
However, it wasn’t the fans who needed to hear the chants. It was the man with the power who needed to hear it: the man sitting in his luxury suite, closer to the clouds in the sky than the players on the field.
Now, after years of pleading, fans of D.C. football can finally breathe a sigh of relief and give their vocal cords a rest.
Dan Snyder has reached an agreement to sell the Washington Commanders.
Snyder bought the then-Redskins in 1999 and has led the team to countless seasons of mediocrity and disappointment.
With Snyder at the helm, Washington football fans have experienced more team names (3) than playoff wins (2).
Snyder has fostered a degree of notoriety that rivals the most hated figures in sports history. If being loathed was a sport, Snyder would be in the Hall of Fame.
Now, Snyder has reached an agreement to sell the Commanders to a group led by billionaire businessman Josh Harris.
All reports point to a price tag north of $6 billion — yes, six billion, as in a six followed by nine zeros.
The purchase, if and when approved by league officials, would immediately become the most expensive purchase of a sports franchise in U.S. history.
Snyder’s tenure as owner is not only characterized by on-field failure, but numerous scandals off it as well. In a recent article, The Athletic compiled a timeline of the allegations against Snyder and the Commanders.
The timeline mentions bank fraud, withholding important information from congressional committees and sexual assault allegations dating back to 2009.
Considering his incompetence as an owner and appalling acts as a human being, it’s a shock Snyder lasted so long as an NFL owner. Every time the franchise seemed to take a step toward redemption, a report detailing a new Snyder calamity would set them back tenfold.
When Snyder hired Ron Rivera as head coach in 2020, the culture started to shift. Players were competing harder on the field and the workplace environment drastically improved.
Although Washington hasn’t had major success under Rivera, there is a noticeable difference in how the franchise operates.
Jason Wright, the president of the Commanders, was hired around the same time Rivera was. Like Rivera, Wright has played a major role in repairing the franchise.
However, there is only so much the duo can do when they have to answer to Snyder. While both have been diplomatic with their comments to the press regarding their boss, it’s obvious they have limited power and abundant frustration.
When reports surfaced detailing the sale of the franchise, Rivera told USA Today Sports that he felt a sense of relief.
The new ownership group is likely to hire a new coaching staff, but the turnover won’t happen for the upcoming season. Rivera and Wright will have a season to prove just how much they can impact the franchise without Snyder obstructing any progress.
Now, with Harris taking over, Commanders fans around the world should be celebrating as if they beat the Cowboys.
Harris is a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. Most importantly, he isn’t Snyder.
Harris has a history of philanthropy and has shown a willingness to invest in social justice initiatives. He’s also the type of owner to invest in his team both financially and emotionally.
In the early-to-mid 2010s, the 76ers went through a rebuilding phase. Harris embraced the “Trust the Process” mentality made famous by NBA All-Star Joel Embiid. Through calculated hirings and patience, Philadelphia has become a consistent playoff contender in the NBA.
While Harris might only be a minor reason behind the success of the 76ers, it proves that a franchise can have success under a Harris regime — something Snyder has never been able to accomplish.
Harris isn’t officially the owner of the franchise yet, but it’s impossible to overstate just how important this potential sale is. It’s monumental for a fan base who has felt helpless and perpetually disappointed by both the ownership group and the team’s on-field play.
There’s a new era on the rise for D.C. football. For Washington fans, that’s cause for major celebration.
Originally Published by The Daily Free Press on April 20, 2023
Link to original article here
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