WJLA News 7
The Josh Harris ownership group created a document for potential partners, released in March, dubbed “Commanders Investment Opportunity.” This document was first obtained by Forbes.
This road map, if you will, goes into tremendous detail about Harris’ plans to improve FedEx Field, generate more revenue for the franchise, and by 2031 hopefully build a domed stadium in either Maryland, D.C., or Virginia all to create a winning team cheered on by thrilled fans.
The Harris ownership group prospectus for potential partners calls for a potential investment of $130 million in projects to improve the fan and player experience, another $100 million for FedEx Field infrastructure upgrades, along with a state-of-the-art, domed stadium built by 2031 somewhere in the DMV --- designed to attract Super Bowls and other high-profile events.
Remember when Eagles Quarterback Jalen Hurts watched in horror as fans fell through barricades at Fed Ex Field? Well, that’s expected to be a thing of the past along with the embarrassing bottom-of-the-league attendance figures.
Rep. James Comer, the Republican chairman of the congressional committee that oversees the District, introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday that could help D.C. turn the shuttered RFK Stadium site into an attractive new mixed-use development — and potentially into a shiny new home for the Washington Commanders.
Comer’s bill — the D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Campus Revitalization Act — would extend the lease between the District and the federal government, which owns the RFK land, for up to 99 years. With some requirements for open space and improving access to the Anacostia River, the legislation would allow for construction of a stadium, commercial and residential developments, or recreational facilities on the roughly 142-acre site. That opens the door to any number of possibilities — and portends a tense debate among members of the D.C. Council, who have disagreed about whether to turn RFK into a Commanders stadium.
DC Sports King
[O]ne city council member remains a steadfast opponent.
“I don’t support building a costly and rarely used NFL stadium at that site, and I really don’t support a stadium that requires substantial District tax dollars,” Ward 6 City Councilman Charles Allen stated in a letter to constituents.
Allen then used Twitter he supports D.C. getting control over the RFK site. However, Congress’s bill does not require an NFL stadium built at the site. He called a stadium a “poor use” of D.C. tax dollars and land and wouldn’t create economic growth for the city.
A team spokesperson said attendance for the weekday session was 3,000, outdrawing what the team averaged in 2019 when the Burgundy and Gold spent the first two weeks of training camp in Richmond. The Richmond sessions drew 34,000 over 12 practices, or an average of 2,833. The Commanders have already distributed 16,000 tickets for this Saturday’s session and are expecting a show rate of 50-60%, [Jason] Wright said.
The bump extends far beyond free training camp tickets, however.
Wright, who announced at Harris’ introductory press conference that Week 1’s home opener against the Arizona Cardinals was nearly sold out, said the Commanders have added 4,143 new season ticket holders since April. He said total ticketing and suite revenue has already surpassed all of what the team sold in 2022, while over the last week — upon Harris taking over — the Commanders are selling tickets at a rate of eight-to-10 times higher than their normal daily average.
Wright said that there’s a “real excitement” in the market, adding that fans are “willing to be proud — and openly proud — about the team.”
Since buying the Commanders, Harris has repeatedly mentioned his Maryland roots and growing up as a fan of the franchise. And in his few appearances so far, Harris has interacted with fans. Before Thursday’s practice, Harris shook hands, posed for pictures and signed autographs down the fences of fans lined up near the bleachers. “All it takes is the simple gestures of Josh‘s being authentically who he is,” Wright said.
It will be impossible for Harris to keep up with all the Commanders. His NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, is allowed to carry a maximum of 15 players during the season, and his NHL team, the New Jersey Devils, is allowed 23. But the Commanders have 90 players at camp and can carry up to 53 on the active roster during the season — plus another 16 on the practice squad. Harris has started building relationships with some of his most important players; defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and wide receiver Terry McLaurin attended his introductory news conference at FedEx Field.
Around the facility, players said, Harris has stopped to chat or shake hands. In the meeting room, Harris told players he would give them the tools they needed to win — and what the players saw his group do at camp gave them hope.
“That’s what new ownership do,” Leno said, grinning. “Looks like [he has] opened up the budget a little bit.”
“He’s doing things above our head to make our life easier, and that just makes us play harder,” Young said.
“The biggest thing that we can do for this organization is go out and win football games,” Fuller said, and as the glow of the new era fades and as the Harris regime learns the football business, each side probably will be buoyed by the idea that the other shares the same priority: winning.
Young, the 2020 second overall pick and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, missed all but the final three games last season after tearing the ACL and rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee. He had just 1.5 sacks in nine games before the injury in November 2021; he did not record any in his final three games.
But ditching the brace was part of his mental recovery. He used it during minicamp, but started working out without it before training camp.
“It was just time to take it off,” Young said. “I feel myself; I feel good. ... I’m feeling explosive.”
“You see the get-off,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “Last year he was hesitant, a little tentative. Last year it took a while before he got out there, and now you see him completely moving around with more confidence and you see him finishing as well.”
Young was back at Ohio State, where he became the most dominant pass-rusher in college football, working with his former defensive line coach Larry Johnson to fine tune his pass-rushing ability for Year 4.
The extra time with the defensive line guru proved to be invaluable.
“Mr. Miyagi is what we call him,” Young said of Johnson with a laugh. “It was good to get it in.”
Johnson is known for helping mold some of the best pass-rushers playing in the NFL today. Aside from Young, the list of players Johnson has coached includes Nick and Joey Bosa, who have accumulated a combined 103.5 sacks in their careers. Young and both of the Bosa brothers went on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell is already enjoying working with new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
“So, all of our run game stuff in college was RPO stuff. And last year’s offense wasn’t nearly as much as that, but in Bieniemy’s offense there is a lot of RPO stuff and a lot of stuff that I’m very familiar with,” Howell said. “Similar concepts, some of the same exact concepts that we ran at UNC [Chapel Hill]. So, I’m very confident in my RPO game and I’m excited to have the ability to do that because I love that type of stuff and I think you can really make defenses wrong in the run game when you have the RPO ability. So, I’m excited that EB has kind of brought that stuff over to us.”
“Terry is one of the top receivers in the NFL,” Forbes said. “So, he’s just going out there, making me better each and every day, and I’m making him better each and every day we compete.”
McLaurin has been among the best receivers for a while now, so it’s understandable that he gets the better of Forbes on the majority of their matchups. That was the case on Day 1, when McLaurin hauled in a diving catch with Forbes providing solid coverage in team drills.
“He just knows and understands routes and stems and things like that,” Forbes said. “He knows how to use his eyes well. So, I would say he has a big catch radius, and he’s really good at what he does.”
That is not to say that the matchup is completely one-sided. Forbes had multiple pass breakups during OTAs and minicamp, and he isn’t afraid to be physical with any receiver he is lined up across from.
Even though he’s a first-round pick, Forbes knows he needs to play with intensity on each snap.
“Just knowing I’m at the highest level and I gotta compete each and every day for my job.”
[F]ans were at practice for the first time this year, and they showed up in droves to fill the new stands that were set up near the sideline. Several players were asked about the new atmosphere, and all of them discussed how appreciative they were to see the Burgundy & Gold faithful. Head coach Ron Rivera said that he could feel the surge whenever someone made a play.
Glenn Youngkin is usually the main attraction wherever he travels in Virginia. The Commonwealth’s governor, among multiple local government officials publicly discussing the Commanders’ stadium plans on Thursday, was merely part of the supporting cast this time.
But for those packed around the entryway, everyone had eyes for the fresh-faced face of the franchise.
It’s not every (or any?) professional sports owner that receives cheers from the ticket-buying patrons. Free access to practice was granted to the approximately 2,000-3,000 fans. The value of “Thank you, Josh!” chants serenading the group? Priceless, especially considering the 180-degree swing whenever the former owner dared to make an appearance. Harris fueled the hype by stopping to take pictures and press the flesh.
“You can see the enthusiasm,” Youngkin, a veteran of rallies, told a local television reporter. “The new ownership is really going to breathe life into this football team.”
The plans currently are that Donaldson will remain a part of the Commanders Radio Broadcast team, have appearances for the team throughout the year, and will thus be working game days.
Her contract expired after three seasons, regarding her weekly duties, which included hosting and overseeing the direction of the live streams from training camp and “Command Center” shows at the Ashburn facility.
In addition to last weekend’s absence during the celebratory times on air, was Donaldson’s absence on “Command Center” Wednesday. That show was hosted by Michael Jenkins.
When considering Rivera’s tenure entering Season 4, it’s important to remember the circumstances in which he took the job. Snyder’s franchise was a mess not only because of the midseason firing of Jay Gruden but because Bruce Allen’s decade of incompetence as an executive had further damaged the organization’s reputation and eaten at its infrastructure. This is all, we know now, against the backdrop of the misogynistic, disgusting environment Snyder had overseen for most of his two-decade stewardship. (These are sentences I have written many times, and it’s so exciting to think they’re about to be history.)
Rivera was supposed to present a square-jawed, honest-man’s work ethic in a forward-facing position to help lift the team from embarrassment. For all the swirl around him — accusations against the owner, the suspension of the owner, a laundry list that we can now thankfully stuff in a drawer and lock up — Rivera did his part. For anyone who worked under Snyder, there’s context. That’s Rivera’s.
But the other thing that’s important to consider is this: His record isn’t very good. Not just in Washington, where he hasn’t had a winning season and enters his fourth with an absolute dice-roll of a quarterback in Sam Howell. In his past five seasons with the big whistle, Rivera is 34-43-1 — a winning percentage that amounts to about 7½ wins over the course of a 17-game season. Feels very Rivera, doesn’t it? In 12 seasons as a coach, Rivera has posted a winning record just three times. Such a record belies such longevity.
JULY 27 COMMANDERS CUT HENDERSON - The Washington Commanders have made their first cut of the preseason.
The team announced that it has cut undrafted defensive back Xavier Henderson.
Henderson was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List on July 22, but he will not make his way back to the main roster.
Three-time Super Bowl champion and founding member of “The Hogs” Joe Jacoby has advanced to the next stage of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2024.
Jacoby, who spent the entirety of his career with Washington, was recently named one of 31 “Senior” players eligible for Hall of Fame consideration on July 12 alongside multiple Washington Legends, including running back Larry Brown and wide receiver Henry Ellard. The selection committee narrowed the list of candidates down to 12 on Thursday.
The next step is for the committee to meet in August to select up to three senior candidates. The finalists will be part of the class of 2024 if they are supported by at least 80% of the voters in January.
There is no debate; he played a pivotal role in revolutionizing offensive line play as an agile left tackle with size. His contributions are integral to any complete summary of the game of professional football. In short, you cannot have a complete discussion about the history of football (especially the 1980s) and not talk about Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, and “The Hogs.”
Yet, the uncomfortable situation that has become an annual disgrace of an NFL legend continues. Fans and “experts” have expressed frustration at Jacoby’s repeated Hall of Fame snubs. The question remains: What more does Joe Jacoby need to do to earn his place in the Hall of Fame? As we await the decision for the class of 2024, one can only hope that this absurd chapter in the history of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will soon come to a close, and Jacoby will finally receive the honors he so richly deserves.
Episode 619 - Ron Rivera admits "I've got a lot to prove" to Josh Harris. Yeah ya do. I discuss that & much more from Ron as #Commanders #TrainingCamp begins, including Ron on analytics & Sam Howell.— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) July 26, 2023
I also discuss a wild #Nats win & brutal #Orioles loss.https://t.co/apmY3hn4P0
Kevin opened the show talking about Day 2 of training camp, the first day with fans. It was an enthusiastic #Commanders crowd in Ashburn. Some new news on RFK and @PeteHaileyNBCS joins.— The Kevin Sheehan Show (@SheehanPodcast) July 27, 2023
Find it on all podcast platforms or:https://t.co/swVaEosdCB
Day 2 in video form: the fans return in a big way. McLaurin’s detailed routes; Dyami Brown; OL talk (a little bit); more Chase Young. 1 guy I love talking about. More. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/RZrzvTbqp7— John Keim (@john_keim) July 27, 2023
FYI: will be doing a live YouTube show at 1 PM ET Friday. Quick practice update and then answering your questions. Your bosses told me it was OK to take a 25 minute work break at that time. @ESPNRichmond— John Keim (@john_keim) July 27, 2023
ICYMI I had a great chat w/ former Washington OL @JonJansen77 on SXM MDSR's Sports Sunday about his experience playing for the tm for 10 seasons following Dan Snyder buying the franchise in 1999, coaching carousel, Snyder's desires to be Jerry Jones & more https://t.co/84U3DX1YOL— Lance Medow (@LanceMedow) July 24, 2023
NFC East links
Pro Football Talk
In his first press conference since agreeing to that deal, Barkley said that he was planning on sitting out the season before having an “epiphany” that led him to reverse course.
“I was. That’s a play that I had,” Barkley said, via SNY. “I’ll be completely honest — If I sat out this year and we didn’t have a good record, do you think that’s gonna make another team in free agency or the Giants want to have me come back the next year after I sat out a whole year? ‘We want to give you $15 million a year now.’ I don’t think that’s how it’s going to work. After having conversations and really breaking it down, you say the only way that I’m going to make a change or do something that’s gonna benefit for myself and my family is doing what I do best. That’s showing up, playing the game I love and do it at a high level.”
Saquon Barkley says he has an "epiphany" and is "doing what I love." pic.twitter.com/demMDyhipz— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) July 27, 2023
Blogging the Boys
An update on the status of two Dallas Cowboys safeties.
Safety Donovan Wilson was carted off, and over the course of a few hours and a few reports from NFL Network and ESPN, it was revealed that Dallas believes it is a 4-6 week situation with the possibility of him returning for the season opener.
Fellow safety Israel Mukuamu was also injured during Wednesday’s practice, but it initially seemed to be something to a lower degree than Wilson’s situation. Mike McCarthy took to the podium on Thursday afternoon and provided the update that we are looking at multi-week situation for both Wilson and Mukuamu.
Pro Football Talk
Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson had a tough ending to the 2022 season, missing the final two games of the regular season with groin injuries and then toughing it out through the postseason. But at the start of training camp, he feels good.
“I feel awesome. I rehabbed pretty early. I had the surgery in early February on both groins. After the first initial weeks I was up working out and got cleared a few months later. So really feeling good,” Johnson said.
NFL league links
What Payton said
“It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed,” Payton said. “And that happened here. Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much (expletive) time trying to win the offseason — the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff.
“We’re not doing any of that. The Jets did that this year. You watch. ‘Hard Knocks,’ all of it. I can see it coming. Remember when (former Washington owner) Dan Snyder put that Dream Team together? I was at the Giants (in 2000). I was a young coach. I thought, ‘How are we going to compete with them? Deion’s (Sanders) there now.’ That team won eight games or whatever. So, listen … just put the work in.”
Payton scoffed at some of the knocks on Wilson that have followed the veteran quarterback since last season.
“Oh, man,” Payton said. “There’s so much dirt around that. There’s 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms. The offense. I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”
But Payton said some of Wilson’s approaches last season, particularly inside the facility, will change.
“That wasn’t (Wilson’s) fault,” Payton said. “That was the parents who allowed it. That’s not an incrimination on him, but an incrimination on the head coach, the GM, the president and everybody else who watched it all happen.
“Now, a quarterback having an office and a place to watch film is normal. But all those things get magnified when you’re losing. And that other stuff, I’ve never heard of it. We’re not doing that.”
Payton added: “But everybody’s got a little stink on their hands. It’s not just Russell. It was a (poor) offensive line. It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was.”
Robert Saleh Doesn’t Give A Damn If Sean Payton Thinks The Jets Fail This Year, Because ‘If You Ain’t Got No Haters, You Ain’t Popping’
I don’t know one single person that would say Hackett didn’t suck wind last year for the Broncos. But as I said, I’m all for this sort of shit talking. In fact we need more of it. These kind interviews and refusing to speak your mind are boring as hell. I want guys to call people out, because sportsmanship is mostly fake. Being nice just to not say something controversial is for cowards.
That said, I gotta admit the Saleh haters line is perfect. Lame enough to be cool enough. It’s catchy and something that Jets fans can run with. If Brian Daboll said that I’d rub his bald head with glee. We’re also talking about a football coach here. Nobody and I mean nobody thrives on bulletin board material like football players/coaches. They live for it. They look for fake bulletin board material just to talk about the chip on their shoulder. They want the whole us vs the world mentality. I’m sure Bears fans everywhere will mention how dumb it was for Payton to give Aaron Rodgers this sort of ammo for one week.
I, for one, hope this Broncos/Jets rivalry develops into beautiful hatred as both teams fight for a 7-10 finish.