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Greetings From The Booth!
Let the new era of Washington Football begin (whatever you choose to call the team)! This past Friday, the Josh Harris ownership of the Washington football franchise began with a 17-15 preseason victory against the Cleveland Browns. The score doesn’t matter, really. The numbers on the scoreboard don’t tell the true tale of the optimism that now surrounds the organization following the 23-year train wreck of Dan Snyder.
No, I’m talking about the “vibe” emanating from Ashburn and beyond. It’s as if a 2-decade storm has moved out of the area and the sun is shining bright. Of course, there is optimism with every NFL team this time of year, because everyone is undefeated. But this is different. An apathetic fan base is re-energized and ready to return to a stadium that in recent years has been occupied by fans of the opposing team. An organization who usually only wins “off the field” seems ready now to win on it.
The difference between the previous and current owner is like night and day. Although both Snyder and Harris grew up as fans of the burgundy and gold in the glory days, Snyder was not a “man of the people.” Harris, meanwhile, endeared himself immediately to the fan base by buying over 1000 of them a beer at a recent DC radio station event at The Bullpen on Half Street near Nationals Park. Harris was seen sitting in the rain among the fans Friday night in Cleveland, as opposed to being enclosed in an owner’s box out of the elements.
These aforementioned things from Harris seem genuine, while everything Snyder did seemed contrived and thrown together. Who could forget the botched Sean Taylor tribute, with an inaccurately-detailed uniform hung on a wire mannequin? How about the last-minute hiring of head coach Jim Zorn, who referred to the team’s colors as “the old Maroon and Black?” Or the many “homecoming” events that attempted to tie the team’s glory days with the present?
Now, in earnest, many past greats are returning to the team. One of them is Darrell Green, who helped the then-Redskins to numerous Super Bowls, and played 20 years with the team. Green is someone you never saw anywhere near the organization under the Snyder regime. And the list goes on, including Joe Gibbs, who brought the organization 3 Lombardi trophies, and in “Gibbs 2.0,” took Washington to 2 playoff appearances under Snyder.
Speaking of the team name, the list of signatures is now over 70,000 to change it back to “Redskins.” I don’t think that will happen, but the name “Commanders” will soon be gone, as Harris tries to tie the present with the past. It’s interesting that Harris has rarely used the name “Commanders” in his public appearances, and preseason play-by-play man Chick Hernandez almost exclusively referred to the team as “the burgundy and gold” in Friday’s game. (Friday night, I played the “burgundy and gold” drinking game, and was three sheets by the second quarter).
On the field, the pieces seem to be in place. Training camp has been spirited, if not chippy, and new OC (and possibly future HC) Eric Bieniemy is whipping a new offense in shape to compliment what should be a top-five defense. New QB1 Sam Howell looked decisive on Friday, and has some exciting weapons around him. Howell will certainly experience growing pains, but his body language shows he’s ready to be “the man.”
No one knows what the 2023 season will bring, but the clouds seem to have parted in the DMV, and now it’s time to bask in the long-awaited sunshine.
Until the next visit from The Booth, HTT?