There’s no denying, the Redskins/Football Team/Commanders fan base and the entire Washington, DC region, have been abused by the franchise’s ownership for nearly a quarter century. It’s not only been abysmal play on the field - which has essentially destroyed the reputation for excellence the team once had - but a series of unyielding off-the-field scandals and petty idiocies that have plagued the organization.
With the wretched former owner and his enabling spouse finally preparing to exit stage right, I’d like to spend as little time as possible thinking about them moving forward. That said, I have some thoughts on how the new ownership group, and, most notably, Josh Harris, can take several easy, early steps to begin to heal the gaping wound in the fanbase (and the region), and get this new era off on the right foot.
I. Don’t Sugarcoat the Mess
After paying $6B in a business transaction, I would assume the last thing a buyer would want to publicly admit is that he purchased a deeply distressed asset. However, as astonishing as it is to say about something worth so much, it’s entirely true. Josh Harris and Mitch Rales, the two foremost investors in the team, have local roots, and - surely - they know that as well as any diehard fan does. Harris should address it head on in his early comments.
As much as I’d like for him to, I’m not asking for Harris to smear the Snyders, or even to mention them - I hope he won’t. But I do hope that he will acknowledge, if even just briefly, the trauma longtime fans - many of whom are no longer fans - have experienced.
Harken back to the “great old days,” when playoffs were the expectation, and the Redskins were one of the top franchises in the league, and an organization that nearly everyone in the DMV could rally around. A time when Sunday was our holy day, and RFK our cathedral, and we were able to exorcise our collective demons on unfortunate teams from across the country week after week, year after year.
However, he should also articulate that the organization has been through some very dark times, and that he has some serious work ahead of him to regain the confidence of the people of the DMV, and to return the team to its rightful position in the pantheon of NFL greats.
II. Be More Present
For the better part of 20 years, most of us have spent our time and energy wishing the owner would just go away. With Harris, Rales, Magic Johnson and others, I think I speak for many when I say, I’d like for their exposure to be oversaturated. I want us to constantly be reminded that there’s a new group of owners in charge, and that they love the team, want to be associated with it, and are staking their own reputations on its success.
I don’t want them meddling in football operations, but I do want them front and center, both to reassure fans, but just as importantly to let the rest of the world know that the despotic dwarf has been jettisoned across the pond. I want Al Michaels to gleefully point out the new faces in the owners’ box on national television, over and over again.
I also want the new owners to focus on re-building the trust relationship with the community. There’s an opportunity for Washington’s football team to be a tremendous force for good in the region and for its owners to become trusted voices. The team isn’t always going to be great on the field, but it’s important for fans to recognize, and hear straight from the top, that the organization is committed to excellence, and that a new era of accountability - where the leaders of the organization aren’t afraid to take tough questions from the press - has been ushered in.
III. Improve the Experience at FedEx (and Ashburn)
In terms of tangible, immediate changes that the new owners can take, this bundle rises to the top. Within a week of getting the green light that the sale has been finalized, training camp begins. Within less than a month, pre-season starts. Both of those events will be nearly immediate opportunities for the new crew to let fans know they are serious about improving the “live” experience.
It’s no secret that FedEx is the worst stadium in the league, and that the facilities at Ashburn are pretty close. Major makeovers at either of those sites are going to be hard to accomplish on such a short timeline, but there are easy interim steps that can be taken.
First, slash concession prices. As of last season, the concession prices at FedEx Field were the 9th highest in the league. With the worst stadium experience in the league, that’s quite a mismatch. Falcons’ owner, Arthur Blank, made a deliberate effort to pursue affordable concessions at his newly opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium and now leads the league on that measure.
Washington’s new ownership group should aim to match, or undercut, the prices in Atlanta as a small “concession” to long suffering fans. As the team, and the facilities themselves, improve over time, feel free to raise prices accordingly. For the time being, however, let’s dispense with the notion that the owners are trying to bleed every last dime from the few remaining loyalists who actually show up for the games.
Next, immediately have the rattiest ass elements of FedEx Field replaced. “Padded” seats, like those pictured below, have existed at FedEx for years now. How these things have gone unreplaced after the nominal stadium upgrades over the past couple of years is unimaginable.
I heard @granthpaulsen and @funnydanny talking about the state of FedEx Field and the seats. I’m at the Ed Sheeran Concert tonight and these are the seats in my section. Dan clearly stopped caring (if he ever truly did) a long time ago. Can’t wait for July 20th! #ByeDan pic.twitter.com/W8BD7fBacw— Charlotte Horne (@CharlotteGHorne) June 24, 2023
If you’d be ashamed to have it at your home, or take it to your child’s rec league game, it shouldn’t be in the home stadium of a $6B operation. Hire a crew of contractors, put together a punch list of immediate fixes to FedEx, and prioritize getting that work done before the first fans step into the stadium in August.
Above are a series of easy, and relatively inexpensive - some are zero cost - steps that the new owners can take over the next 3 or 4 weeks to build the confidence of the fanbase and to establish their sincere desire to turn this organization around.
A steady drumbeat of successes, as opposed to the slow-drip of maddening idiocies that came out of the Snyder tenure, would be as welcome as a cool drizzle during the late days of summer. Let’s hope Josh Harris and his partners are prepared to hit the ground running.
Which of these activities would you like to see the new owners prioritize?
This poll is closed
Coming clean about the state of the organization.
Being intensely physically present over the course of the season.
Improving the FedEx experience