The Washington Commanders franchise has undergone a significant amount of change over the past several months.
Daniel Snyder’s controversial ownership officially came to an end, Eric Bieniemy took over the team’s offense, and roster was turned over. A group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris officially closed a record-breaking deal to purchase the Commanders in July.
Washington’s highly-anticipated first regular season under Harris is just around the corner, and the Commanders’ new owner expressed excitement about opening a new chapter for the franchise.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about Sunday. I obviously won’t be sleeping too much between now and then. [It’s] a big day for the franchise, big day for us. And we’ve got to make sure a lot of things go right for the fans,” Harris said during an appearance on WTOP radio.
The Commanders currently play just outside Washington, D.C., at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Harris is a Maryland native and said he was thankful for all the support the fans have given over the past couple of months.
“No one could have anticipated the outpouring of support from Washington and from the DMV. The fans have been amazing. The city has been amazing,” Harris said. “We really appreciate the support. We need the 12th man.”
The idea of the franchise reverting to is former name has recently been floated, but that concept has been shut down by the Harris ownership group.
Earlier this week, Mitchell Rales, a partner in the ownership group, said the “Redskins” name would not be restored.
“That ship has sailed,” said Rales on Wednesday at an event for the Economic Club in Washington.
“We’re not going to re-litigate the past. We’re about the future. We’re about building the future and not having a divisive culture that we’re engaged in. We’re going to look at everything come the end of the year and think about a lot of different things and do a lot of testing and see what people think. And we’ll learn. The beauty is we have the time to look at all of this stuff intelligently and make fan-based decisionsThe.”
On Friday, Harris acknowledged that the name was disrespectful to some fans. He also mentioned that the focus should be on football — not the team’s controversial former name.
“I grew up in the glory years, and I remember the team from that era and worshipped it, but the old name . . . some of our fans felt disrespected by it, and sports is supposed to unify people,” Harris told 7News in Washington.
“I didn’t want the distraction, so we came out and we hopefully ended that conversation and got the focus back on football, where it should be.”
Jason Wright, the Commanders’ president, also closed the door on the team’s former name. “It is not being considered,” Wright said last week during an appearance on 106.7 the Fan. “Period.”
Washington kicks off a new era on September 10, when the team hosts the Arizona Cardinals.