Oct 5, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris with fans before the game against the Chicago Bears at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders’ Josh Harris shares vision for turnaround

Washington Commanders managing partner Josh Harris said he plans to hire a head of football operations before bringing in candidates to become head coach, but he acknowledged in a public comments Monday that timing might not let him execute his ideal search sequence.

Harris addressed the players earlier in the day, then spoke in public. He said his general emotion at the end of the 2023 season was frustration and felt head coach Ron Rivera was not surprised to be dismissed on Monday.

“It’s very important to have a relationship, to have a dialogue with the players,” Harris said. “It’s very important to be engaged, particularly the captains and the leadership.”

Harris has tasked former Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers and former Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman, who has 30 years scouting and personnel experience, to assist with front-office decisions.

“Bob Myers is a winner,” Harris said of going outside of the NFL orbit to hire the four-time NBA championship architect. “Who wouldn’t want him on your team?”

Harris said he considered candidates throughout the season but wasn’t planning to make a change before Monday. He said he committed to the city, and to Rivera, that the coach would have the entire season to be evaluated on the Commanders’ performance after Harris led a group that purchased the franchise from Daniel Snyder prior to the start of the 2023 season.

The Commanders finished the season 4-13 and were 26-40-1 in four seasons under Rivera.

“My message to the Washington fan base is thank you,” Harris said. “You showed up in droves. We sold out every game. … The future is bright. We have a lot of cap space. We have a great ownership group. We’re very committed to winning for this city. We look forward to showing you and not telling you in future years.”

Harris spoke to Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Monday to hand him the keys to the team temporarily and said in a “perfect scenario,” his head of football operations would discuss the head-coaching position with Bieniemy “and others.”

“We’re right there with the fans in terms of sweating every loss. The ultimate goal is to be an elite team competing for championships. When you do things quickly, sometimes you set yourselves back. … I want a winning franchise — quickly. But for me it’s about making the right decisions.”

One thing not on the Washington to-do list is reviewing the Commanders name, which some fans had speculated new ownership might do.

“In addition to picking a new head of the front office, a new head coach, we’re busy at work working on the next improvements to our stadium,” Harris said. “We’re going to be rolling out a big investment program in the next few weeks. And then obviously we’ve got our new home and thinking about that.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera on the field against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders owner: ‘Wins on the field’ to decide Ron Rivera’s fate

New Commanders owner Josh Harris needs only one number to decide whether head coach Ron Rivera sticks around: the win total.

Rivera begins his fourth season in Washington with a 22-27-1 record and a goal of getting back to the playoffs.

He’ll have to do it with another new starting quarterback — Sam Howell — which has been the nagging constant since he took over in Washington.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know coach Rivera,” Harris said Wednesday. “He’s a good man; he’s done a great job in terms of where the team is relative to where it was when he got here and relative to a lot of the distractions going on.

“He has a very capable front office. We’re getting up to speed; we want to hear how you want to learn, how you make decisions. It’s going really well. … Ultimately we have to deliver wins on the field. You don’t need to say anything. It’s just out there. So far, so good.”

Rivera told The Washington Post he and Harris, who grew up in the region attending the team’s games at RFK Stadium, are in full agreement on one thing: the goal is to put a team on the field worthy of the franchise’s long-suffering fan base.

Beyond that, Rivera said he can’t fret his own future while focused on putting a winner on the field.

“If we go 8-8-1 this year and he fires me, and next year they win the division and 40 of the 53 players we drafted, and it’s the same quarterback, I’m vindicated. Send me my Super Bowl ring. That’s the way I look at it,” he told The Post. “I want us to be right and to see this community have that excitement again.”

Howell started one game, the regular-season finale, last season. Rivera sounds optimistic Howell can be a long-term answer to a years-old pain point.

The QB position has been a sore spot with a revolving door of Week 1 starters that weren’t the solution since Kirk Cousins fled to Minnesota in free agency: Carson Wentz (2022), Ryan Fitzpatrick (2021), Dwayne Haskins (2020), Case Keenum (2019), Alex Smith (2018) and Cousins (2017).

Mark Rypien was the last Washington quarterback to start for more than three consecutive seasons (1989-1993).

Every NFC East team reached the playoffs in 2022 with the exception of Washington. The Eagles played in the Super Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys won 12 games and the New York Giants got in to cap a resurgent season under Brian Daboll.

The Commanders fell short with three losses and a tie in their final five games.

–Field Level Media

May 6, 2022; Ashburn, Virginia, USA; Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera (R) talks with Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) during Washington Commanders rookie minicamp at Inova Performance Center In Ashburn, VA. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera senses pressure to make playoffs in Washington

A new team owner brings new expectations, and Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera confessed he feels pressure to make sure Josh Harris gets his money’s worth in 2023.

Harris, approved as owner of the Commanders last week, takes over a team with two playoff wins in the past 24 seasons — all on the watch of previous owner Dan Snyder.

Rivera, 61, went 8-8-1 last season and Washington missed the postseason for the sixth time in the team’s past seven seasons. Rivera is 22-27-1 since Snyder hired him before the 2020 season, and guided the team to the wild-card playoffs that year. He said the Commanders came “too close” the past two seasons not to sense a bit of pressure to make it back to the playoffs.

“Most certainly, I have a lot to prove. We put ourselves in a good position, we have a young team but with some vets in key positions,” Rivera said Tuesday. “I feel like I want to prove myself.”

Harris plans to be on the field observing his team Wednesday and could be involved in multiple facets of the decision-making process Snyder had placed in the purview of president Jason Wright and Rivera.

Rivera said Harris was direct about where the franchise was headed and how soon that direction needed to be established.

“I appreciate how forward he was about that — about winning, about developing, about growing, about culture,” Rivera said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers managing partner Josh Harris speaks at the podium during the sculpture unveiling ceremony honoring Charles Barkley at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

New owner Josh Harris vows to bring Washington back to glory days

Incoming Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris received a hero’s welcome at the entrance of the team’s stadium on Friday afternoon, where locals celebrated a changing of the guard from Dan Snyder and embraced the local fanboy feeling emanating from the new boss.

Harris was approved as owner of the Commanders by unanimous vote of the NFL’s 32 franchise owners in Minnesota on Thursday and arrived 20 hours later to droves of grateful fans chanting “Thank you Josh.”

“We have a lot to do,” Harris said, slapping high-fives with fans hovering at the front of the stage. “We’ve got to get the team ready to win football games. We’ve go to get out in the community and start to pay it forward. We’ve got to change fan experience at the stadium. That’s what we’re focused on right now.”

Former head coach Joe Gibbs addressed the crowd to shed light on Harris, who owns a minority stake in Joe Gibbs Racing.

With head coach Ron Rivera and team president Jason Wright among existing team brass seated on stage, Harris engaged the audience with an energetic flair diametrically opposed to his predecessor.

The message from the Chevy Chase, Md., native was different, too.

Harris sprayed to every field in a question-and-answer session with fans who asked about the team changing its name for a fourth time and the future of the antiquated stadium.

“We’re going to throw a party every other Sunday,” Harris said, highlighting his experience going to the franchise’s games at RFK Stadium.

“When you have guests in your house, you treat them well. You don’t have couches that are broken. You don’t have TVs that aren’t working. That’s what we’re focused on right now. As far as the stadium experience long run, we would love to have a stadium where opposing players fear to come and our players love to come and our players love to come and feel welcome. That’s what I experienced at RFK. Whatever happens at the stadium, that’s the kind of stadium experience I want to create.”

Harris pointed to recently published franchise value numbers that showed Washington was No. 1 in North America in 2008 but has since been overtaken by multiple teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and others.

He said he does grasp the amount of work ahead to bring the franchise back to once lofty heights.

“It’s hard to imagine but I’ve seen the numbers. The Commanders were once the No. 1 franchise in the NFL back when they were the Redskins. Not the Dallas Cowboys.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers managing partner Josh Harris speaks at the podium during the sculpture unveiling ceremony honoring Charles Barkley at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

NFL approves new Commanders owner Josh Harris, initiates exit of Dan Snyder

NFL owners voted to unanimously approve the $6.05 billion sale of the Washington Commanders from Daniel Snyder to Josh Harris on Thursday at the JW Marriott hotel in Bloomington, Minn.

“Congratulations to Josh Harris and his impressive group of partners,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Josh will be a great addition to the NFL. He has a remarkable record in business, sports, and in his communities. The diverse group that Josh has put together is outstanding for its business acumen and strong Washington ties and we welcome them to the NFL.”

Harris, the principal owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils, is from Chevy Chase, Md., and outbid multiple groups vying to own the club Snyder purchased for $800 million in 1999. The purchase price included what was then known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and became FedEx Field.

A formal approval vote from the NFL’s 32 current owners to finalize the sale to Harris required a “yes” vote from at least 24 sitting owners.

The parties are granted a deadline of Aug. 1 to fully finalize the sale.

Goodell said Harris has “a commitment to winning on the field,” which is a welcome word for Washington fans. In Snyder’s 24 seasons as owner, the team won two playoff games.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called it a “great day” for the NFL.

The Commanders are the second NFL franchise to change hands in 15 months. The sale of the Denver Broncos was also approved by unanimous vote in April 2022. The Walton-Penner group paid $4.65 billion to buy the franchise from the Pat Bowlen estate.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay suggested owners could force the removal of Snyder based on a pattern of accusations and investigations around his behavior or business practices, which caught the attention of the Washington, D.C., Attorney General.

Snyder’s tumultuous and scandalous reign as an owner was also one of the most litigious in league history. More than 50 former employees accused Snyder of workplace misconduct or sexual harassment.

He reached settlements in multiple lawsuits and agreed in November 2022 to pursue a sale of the franchise.

Current head coach Ron Rivera described his emotions around the change in ownership as relief, even with potential changes in the front office and decision-making roles under Harris.

“Kind of relief,” Rivera told USA Today. “It really seemed like a load was lifted because everybody was on pins and needles for the last couple of months.”

Not all of the Snyder-related strings tied to NFL business and public relations were cut with the sale of the franchise.

Goodell has said findings of the investigation into Snyder’s alleged misgivings led by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White would be released even when the team is sold. White met with owners in Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon.

ESPN reported that Snyder’s attorneys informed owners on Thursday that “unresolved” issues remain before the outgoing owner signs off on the information being made public.

–Field Level Media

Josh Harris and a group of investors including Magic Johnson could be approved as Commanders' owners by July 20. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Vote on Commanders sale likely next month

Josh Harris’ bid to purchase the Washington Commanders could be approved before the start of training camp next month.

According to multiple reports, the Commanders cleared the first NFL procedural hurdle with a successful meeting of the league’s finance committee, prompting a scheduled meeting of owners to approve the reported $6.05 billion sale of the franchise from Daniel Snyder.

According to The Athletic, the meeting is scheduled for July 20.

NFL bylaws stipulate 24 of the 32 owners must vote in favor to clear the sale of a majority or full stake in any NFL franchise.

Harris aligned with Magic Johnson, a partial owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on the Commanders’ bid to front a group that outbid Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and others.

Harris has multiple sports franchise holdings, including the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. Harris and Johnson led a bid for the Denver Broncos, but the franchise sold to Walton-Penner in 2022.

Snyder’s exit was encouraged by at least one owner — Jim Irsay of the Colts — who said publicly the NFL would consider removing Snyder in the midst of multiple controversies including litigious battles with co-owners, Congressional and judicial inquiries into financial impropriety, sexual harassment and workplace misconduct.

–Field Level Media

Trent Harris (93), pictured rushing the passer in 2021 with the New York Giants, was invited to Broncos minicamp. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos invite XFL sacks leader Trent Harris to minicamp

XFL sacks leader Trent Harris is headed to rookie minicamp with the Denver Broncos.

A well-traveled pass rusher who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent from Miami in 2018, Harris had 15 career sacks with the Hurricanes and landed with the New England Patriots, sticking on the practice squad as a rookie. Harris helped play the role of Aaron Donald for the Patriots ahead of their Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams.

An outside linebacker for the Houston Roughnecks, Harris had 7.0 sacks to lead the XFL in 2023, including four in Week 1.

The Broncos were 5-12 last season and their top two sack leaders, Dre’Mont Jones (6.5) and Bradley Chubb (5.5), are no longer on the roster. Denver posted just 36 total sacks in 2022 after recording 17 in the first five games of the regular season. Chubb was traded to the Miami Dolphins in October.

Harris has 2.0 career sacks and 34 tackles in the NFL.

He was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins in September 2019 and spent parts of 2020 and 2021 with the New York Giants before unfruitful cameos with the Ravens and Raiders in 2022.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders helmet on the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Dan Snyder gets $6B offer for Commanders

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder received a $6 billion offer from an investment group led by Josh Harris and Mitchell Rales, ESPN reported Tuesday.

The price tag would smash the previous record sale for a U.S. sports franchise, set last August when Walmart heir Rob Walton purchased the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion.

The Harris/Rales group, which includes NBA legend Magic Johnson, is one of several potential bidders for the club Snyder has owned since 1999.

Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta are also in the mix.

Harris and Rales have net worths of $5.8 and $5.5 billion, respectively, according to Forbes. Harris is the principal owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Haynes King (13) warms up before the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M QB Haynes King, CB Denver Harris to transfer

Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King and cornerback Denver Harris entered the transfer portal Friday.

King is a graduate transfer, while Harris just completed his freshman season after arriving in College Station as a five-star prospect.

King was a part-time starter at quarterback for the Aggies in 2021 and 2022. His 2021 season was cut short after two starts due to a season-ending injury.

He appeared in six games this season and threw for 1,220 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Aggies also have former LSU transfer Max Johnson and freshman Conner Weigman at quarterback.

Harris, meanwhile, recorded 14 tackles and three pass breakups in his freshman season.

He was rated the No. 23 overall prospect and the fourth-best cornerback in the Class of 2022 according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. His signing contributed to the Aggies putting together the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the cycle.

That didn’t help Texas A&M on the field this year. The Aggies (5-7, 2-6 SEC) missed out on bowl eligibility after a six-game losing streak marred their season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry III (79) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos place C Lloyd Cushenberry III (groin) on IR

The Denver Broncos placed starting center Lloyd Cushenberry III on injured reserve Tuesday with a groin injury.

In a corresponding move, the Broncos promoted safety Anthony Harris from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Cushenberry, 24, was injured in the Broncos’ 21-17 win over Jacksonville in Week 8. He’ll have to miss at least four games. Cushenberry had played every snap before sustaining the injury in London.

Cushenberry has started all 40 games in which he’s appeared since being selected in the third round of the 2020 draft.

Graham Glasgow is expected to replace Cushenberry at center this week against the Tennessee Titans.

Harris, 31, has appeared in two games this season for the Broncos, playing exclusively on special teams. He has 10 career interceptions in seven-plus seasons, mostly with Minnesota.

–Field Level Media