Commanders need new command

FedEx+Field%2C+home+of+the+now-Washington+Commanders+of+the+NFL%2C+in+Landover%2C+Md.

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FedEx Field, home of the now-Washington Commanders of the NFL, in Landover, Md.

Owen McAdams, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When is enough finally enough? 

The Washington Commanders have been nothing short of pitiful for the past two decades, and then some.  

The team, spearheaded by majority owner Daniel Snyder, has once again faced controversy after controversy with Snyder at the helm.  

Snyder’s antics as the team owner have been anything but few and far between. Despite the team’s rebranding to the Washington Commanders in February, there has been nothing but the same from the organization and leadership.  

Just weeks after news broke that the team was changing their name to the Commanders, new reports surfaced, unveiling a lengthy list of financial malpractices that the organization was committing. Whether that be hiding ticket revenue from the league, or even keeping old security deposits from fans who had passed. 

The team’s general success has suffered under Snyder as well. The team has won just one playoff game since Snyder acquired the team in 1999 and has only made it to the playoffs a whopping six times. They’ve won the division title just twice.  

That single playoff win was the first season that Snyder acquired the team. 

For a team that once had the prestige that the Washington Redskins had, the last three decades have been nothing short of a nightmare for fans and staff alike. A fan base that expected and demanded success has shriveled due to decades of incompetence. 

In 2021, the Commanders had the second-lowest attendance in the league, averaging a mere 52,751 fans at home. They just edged out the Detroit Lions, who averaged 51,522 per games. The Lions have never won a Super Bowl and are regarded globally as one of the worst franchises in not just the NFL, but the entirety of professional sports.  

To go from where Washington did, cementing themselves as one of the best teams of the ‘80s and ‘90s, to battling out the Lions as the league’s bottom feeder, is astonishing. Even with the reports of the Commanders hiding ticket sales from the league, the idea that they are anywhere near the bottom is concerning. 

Dozens upon dozens of former players, staff and fans have come forward about the horrible conditions that they have been placed in.  

All-Pro Left Tackle and former Washington Redskin Trent Williams sat out the entirety of the 2019-2020 season after it was discovered that he had a cancerous tumor on his skull, which had been growing for six years. 

The Washington medical staff had either not noticed the tumor or neglected to tell Williams. Either is unacceptable.  

“I guess nobody took the time to see what was going on there,” Williams said in a press conference back in October of 2019. “Football was more important [to them], and to me it was more important, too. I was told it was something minor, so I didn’t really question them. But, I mean, the lump continued to grow over the years. It was concerning, but there was no pain involved and if I’m being told by the very people I put my career in the hands of, people are telling me I’m fine, [then] I’m fine. That’s how I looked at it.” 

30 percent of his skull had to be taken out for the tumor to be removed.  

“I almost lost my life,” Williams said.  

Williams has expressed that he does not trust Washington anymore. Since his holdout from the team, he has since signed with the San Francisco 49ers.  

This isn’t the only time Washington’s team staff and medical personnel have made a monumental error. In 2012, Washington’s second overall pick, Robert Griffin III, had all the signs of becoming the franchise’s superstar quarterback, which it has lacked since the days of Joe Theismann in the ‘80s.  

Griffin lit the league up with his explosive ability to run, paired with a great arm and a talent for making plays. He spearheaded the then-Washington Redskins on a 10-6 campaign to reach the playoffs, while also winning Rookie of the Year. 

Griffin would then tear his ACL in his right knee during the Wildcard round of the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks.  

This came after Griffin strained his LCL, also in his right knee, during one of the team’s final regular season games. Despite the LCL injury, Griffin was given the clear to play in the Seahawks game until his knee gave out on him.  

After this injury, he was nowhere near the same player, with his running regressing heavily as a result of sustained injuries to his legs. His stats were worse in nearly every category the next year, and the team went just 3-13, a major drop off compared to the 10 wins from the previous year.  

Poor management of players’ health is unacceptable, especially given that at the time those were two of the best players on their respective Washington teams. 

Off the field issues have also plagued the team since Snyder took over at the helm.  

Recently, this has resulted in dozens of employees filing lawsuits against the organization, claiming that rampant sexual assault from Snyder and other staff members was taking place over his span as majority owner. 

The team’s reputation due to these incidents has suffered. The Commanders, who are in desperate need of a new stadium, have been unable to find a suitor.  

With the current stadium, FedEx Field, being used since before Snyder acquired the team back in 1997, there is a lot to be left desired with the current stadium. 

In March, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) put his foot down on a proposed plan to build a new stadium for the team.  “We’re not going to get in a bidding war over them and we’re not going to be proposing $1.2 billion for them to build a new stadium,” he said.

In 2020, ESPN ranked all 28 NFL stadiums in order from best to worst. FedEx Field came dead last in that list and was towards the bottom of every metric used when comparing every NFL team’s stadium. This includes things such as ticket prices, parking, food prices, and many more. 

According to ESPN, the aesthetics of the stadium “lack personality; the views of the field are poor and – in some cases – obstructed; the stadium is in a bad location east of Washington, D.C., and is tough to get to and park at.”

Along with the absurd prices, which includes a $50 parking fee, the stadium is not aging well. Videos of FedEx Field’s sewage system leaking onto fans broke out during the first game of last season.  

It’s safe to say that nobody wants to play at FedEx anymore, especially given the team’s push to get a new deal for a stadium.  

“If Virginia wants to do that and they want to go to Virginia, I would say, ‘Good luck!‘” Hogan added.