Ron Rivera may not like the pervasive miasma of negativity that surrounds his football team - who would? - but there are multiple valid reasons almost everything the organization does is viewed through a lens of incompetence, ineptitude, and cynicism.
Several recent media pieces assessing NFL superlatives, in terms of off-the-field - and in one case “field” - metrics pile on to that view of the franchise, and give a sense of how difficult it will ever be to overcome the broader public perception of a failed football operation in the nation’s capital.
Anyone who has had the displeasure of attending a home game in Raljon is utterly unsurprised by the fact that the Commanders’ stadium is consistently rated the worst in the NFL. Nothing the team did in 2021 appreciably changed that. In fact, several high profile incidents demonstrating the continued deterioration of FedEx Field occurred last season that only worsened its image.
30. FedEx Field – Washington Commanders
WHY IT’S BOTTOM OF OUR NFL STADIUM RANKINGS: We’re not exactly sure why any person would go to FedEx Field, unless they want to torture themselves and waste money. Even getting to this place is an incredible hassle, with fans forced to sit through ridiculous traffic just to get inside and then experience the same frustrations when leaving in the third quarter. The experience of getting to FedEx Field is miserable, tickets and food are ridiculously expensive and the stadium itself looks bad. It’s a shame, because this is a very good football team.
As if things couldn’t get worse at FedEx Field, Week 1 got off to a roaring start. A sewage pipe burst on fans early in the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. That about sums up the experience of going to this stadium. If that all wasn’t bad enough, the team itself is bad again. Never come to this stadium, save yourself.
If the experiences at FedEx Field weren’t bad enough, now the safety of fans is at risk. The railing collapse thankfully didn’t hurt anyone this time, but it seriously endangered those who crashed to the ground. Jalen Hurts is right, things need to change at FedEx Field with both the NFL and Commanders owner Daniel Snyder responsible.
Without any tangible alternatives on the horizon, and Maryland, DC, and Virginia generally uninterested in helping the Snyders build a replacement, it’s likely that Washington continues to hold this dubious distinction for - at least - much of the foreseeable future.
We begin our rankings of NFL fanbases from the bottom with the Washington Commanders.— Fanalytics with Mike Lewis (@FanalyticsMike) May 19, 2022
Check out the full rankings and details behind Emory Marketing Professor Mike Lewis's statistical ranking model here: https://t.co/fSdg5GdVp6 pic.twitter.com/ShEar9GBO7
For the past decade or so, Fanalytics has used data and analytics to try to answer the question, “who has the best fanbase in the NFL.” Why would they deem that important?
The Fandom Rankings use the concept of brand equity. Brand equity is the idea that brands provide economic value to firms because they inspire loyalty or allow firms to charge premium prices. In the case of high brand equity teams, fans are willing to pay higher ticket prices and show up even when the team is losing.
The top of the list is comprised of perennial powerhouses, like the Packers and Patriots, followed by two NFC East rivals, the Cowboys and the Eagles. Coming in at fifth are the Steelers, who have enjoyed decades of continuous success.
Where does our fair team stack up?
32. Washington Commanders
The Commanders represent a true fall from glory. The Washington Football Franchise was a top 5 or 10 brand when we began these rankings. Two decades of losing, poor talent acquisition, and a long-term name controversy have pushed the club to the bottom of the list. It’s a marketing and football disaster. This offseason has probably made things worse as the Commanders name was poorly received. The Commanders feel like an expansion team that started by offending the local market.
This one probably hurts the worst, because the few of us fans that remain tend to be the most hard core. Many of us remember when this was one of the premier franchises in the league, and even when it was the most valuable team in the NFL.
Though the relative value of the team had a slight tick up last year, it still remains badly depressed from where it was before the Snyders took over.
It’s not that the fans that remain are bad fans, it’s simply that the fanbase has been so dramatically winnowed and beaten down, there’s not much “there” there anymore.
The truth is, all of the rest of the organizational dysfunction flows from this single source. It’s not enough that our diminutive dictator has bathed the Washington football franchise in a continuous parade of off the field scandals. On the field, he’s driven it into the ground over the past two decades with his perpetual meddling.
Since 2000, the Washington Football teams have fielded 23 different QBs, some for only a game, others for several seasons. Throughout it all, the owner has screwed things up, starting from the beginning.
Daniel Snyder, Washington Commanders
Snyder’s team is perennially awful. He’s fostered a culture of toxic misogyny at team headquarters, and is under investigation himself for sexual harassment. He stubbornly refused to give up a racist nickname and then, once he finally did, replaced it with the lamest of the options available.
He’s the worst owner in sports, as a team steward and as a person, and it’s not even close.
Will Ron Rivera and Jason Wright be able to facilitate any movement on any of these metrics over the course of the next couple of years? It’s hard to envision that happening.
I am, however, encouraged to see several of the players attempting to step up and take the bull by the horns. The players want to win. They want to change the culture. And, they want to re-invigorate the fanbase.
Same.. Let’s Change the Culture https://t.co/F23NBLqWPz— Antonio Gibson (@AntonioGibson14) May 20, 2022
Let’s hope their efforts succeed, but also recognize that most of the issues that this franchise faces are well above their ability to do anything about.
In 5 years, do you think Washington’s standings on these metrics will be improved or not?