Update: Commanders statement on radio deals and rumor on possible new partner
The Washington Commanders confirm they will have a new radio partner going forward.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) March 23, 2022
Separately, hearing IHeart radio is the radio situation to watch now. Tons of local stations, including 100.3 and 101.1 pic.twitter.com/wydMuDbyAO
It’s been a slow week in free agency for the Washington Commanders after last week saw them releasing players, and picking up one cheaper replacement. There was also some drama with J.D. McKissic’s change of heart with the Buffalo Bills and Matt Ioannidis’ inability to read the tea leaves about his job security. But it’s been whisper quiet this week except for a possible re-signing of backup tackle Cornelius Lucas.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been news out of Ashburn, and it’s not the kind they want to be grabbing headlines. Late Friday a story came out about Anheuser-Busch cutting ties with the Washington Commanders with no reason given for their decision. This is the third sponsor to end their relationship with Washington in the last year, following Inova last April, and Medliminal last month. Washington is looking for a new beer sponsor as Budweiser will continue to sponsor the NFL and 20+ other NFL teams.
In a statement provided to The Washington Post by a company spokesperson, Anheuser-Busch said it decided not to renew its sponsorship of the Commanders “at this time.”
“We remain fully committed to Washington football fans, and we look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with the NFL and our other 26 team partners to create meaningful experiences and connections for fans across the country,” the spokesperson said.
This morning the Commanders were hit again after Kevin Sheehan announced that their games would not be broadcast on Team 980 or any other Audacy stations for the 2022 season. Money was mentioned, but they also don’t want to feel pressured or limited in what they are allowed to say about the team. Dan Snyder used to own the radio station, but sold it during the 2018 offseason. This ended the team’s ownership and control of the station, and the perceived bias that came with it.
The organization and the company “disagreed on the value of the broadcasts [and] it is also very important for us as a sports talk station, even as a long-time flagship station for the team, it was important for us to continue to be able to provide honest, objective information and analysis about the [Commanders] on our talk shows,”
The Washington football franchise has been dealing with scandals for a long time, but they have been persistent over the last few years. The cheerleader scandal brought massive changes to the organization after accusations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace came out from dozens of other employees. An investigation was conducted, but subsequently buried by Roger Goodell and Dan Snyder. The report was never released, and the team(not Snyder) was fined $10 million while he was unofficially suspended from day-to-day operations while is wife Tanya became the co-CEO and took over.
A Congressional investigation led to new allegations against Dan Snyder, and we now have a second investigation that the NFL has taken over. Goodell hired Mary-Jo White to lead this one, taking over the Beth Wilkinson role this time. Wilkinson reportedly suggested Snyder should be forced to sell the team, but that never happened. There are several campaigns online in the fanbase, and from outside the fanbase to release the original report, and to also put pressure on sponsors to make that happen.
Losing Anheuser-Busch will be a big loss to the team if they can’t replace that level of global sponsorship, and now they look to fill that void. This could have nothing to do with the scandals that Washington and Dan Snyder continue to deal with. It’s still a bad look for a franchise that continues to try to reinvent itself, but keeps paying for it’s past sins and their coverups.
That contract was worth at least $4 million annually, per NFL and team sources, and ranked among the Commanders’ four largest sponsorships. The only deals worth equal or more are with Pepsi, FedEx and Bank of America.
And it gets worse per JP Finlay.
In Washington, however, the deal was exclusive, and team and league sources said it was highly unusual that InBev would drop from an exclusive deal to no deal rather than simply lowering its financial commitment and moving to a non-exclusive contract.
The loss of the multi-million dollar sponsorship comes at a time of significant upheaval inside the Commanders business operations. Team and league sources explained that at least 20 non-football employees have left since the beginning of the year. Per one former team employee, “that place is a mess.”
Good luck finding a Commanders game on the radio this season.