New Owners Provide Commanders with Hope

by Noah Bair ‘24

Over the last decade or longer, fans of the Washington Commanders have watched their team go through controversy after controversy ranging from Dan Snyder’s workplace harassment scandal to multiple team rebrands. The team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2005, and they haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1991. With fans eager for a revival of what used to be one of the most successful teams in the league, a new owner might just be the spark that reignites the franchise.
Since he became the owner in 1999, Snyder’s time on top has become broadly known for all the wrong reasons. In this span of time, the team has won 164 of their 384 games, which is just over a .400 winning percentage, and only won two playoff games.  An example of bad signings that was typical under Snyder,  the team tried to make a big splash by signing a 33 year old Deion Sanders to a seven year, $56 million deal, but Sanders retired after only one year. Then, In July of 2020, a bombshell Washington Post report revealed that the Commanders fostered an unhealthy workplace culture and allowed the harassment of employees to take place. The study cited the allegations of 15 women who worked in the Washington organization, who claimed that they were sexually harassed during their time with the team. While Snyder, the owner of the Commanders, was not directly accused of sexual harassment, he was blamed for “an understaffed human resources department” and “a sophomoric culture of verbal abuse among top executives.”
Now, after years of investigation by both the NFL as well as Congress, it seems that Snyder’s time as owner will finally come to an end. On April 11, it was announced that the Commanders would be sold to a group led by Josh Harris for $6 billion. Harris is a 58 year old Maryland native, who amassed a large fortune from an equity company that he created. In addition to being the new majority owner of the Commanders, Harris also owns a majority of the Philadelphia 76ers as well as the New Jersey Devils.
A new owner might be exactly what the Commanders need to get themselves out of the rut that they’ve been stuck in for the last few decades. FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, that the team has called home for more than two decades, is known as one of the worst stadiums in the NFL. In September of 2021, a number of pipes bursted and sewage spewed everywhere onto fans in the stadium. Then, in January of 2022, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was leaving the stadium to enter the visitor’s locker room when the railing between him and the fans broke and fans fell on his legs.
In 2007, Snyder met with DC officials to attempt to move the stadium to Washington instead of Maryland, but nothing ever came of it. In addition to DC, there have also been rumors that the team could move to a new home in Northern Virginia. In 2019, Amazon announced that their second headquarters, HQ2, would be placed in Northern Virginia. While this would be the perfect opportunity for the Commanders to move to a thriving region, action was never taken and now Amazon has stopped construction on HQ2.
Even if a new stadium isn’t imminent, not having Snyder own the team is the biggest step the team has taken to improve. Harris has the ability to revive the excitement of the fans, attract new and talented  players for the team, and change the culture as a whole.