If you know a Washington Commanders fan, check in on them, and let them know you care.
Because they, and their franchise, have had a terrible, horrible week.
Where do we begin?
We can begin with the status of their starting quarterback. After the Commanders lost to the Tennessee Titans over a week ago, head coach Ron Rivera was asked what sets the other teams in the NFC East apart from the Commanders. His response was quick and to the point.
Rivera walked those comments back the next day, making the case that he meant the other teams in the division had more time with their starting quarterbacks, as opposed to Wentz who came over in the offseason. He even apologized to Wentz after the comments. But bringing up the quarterback position in a town desperate for stability at the position, and on a short week, is never a good thing.
Whose post-game fit caused a stir as well.
Then came word that Wentz was hurt. The quarterback suffered a fractured finger, which required surgery, and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks as he recovers. Opening the door for former starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke, and a conversation about rookie Sam Howell.
Does that seem like a lot? Well, we are just getting started …
Next up, of course, is the ongoing saga of owner Dan Snyder. Last week explosive reporting from ESPN outlined how, despite ongoing investigations and controversy, Snyder had a three-pronged approach to maintaining control over the franchise. First, a franchise quarterback, and the reporting made the case that it was Snyder who pushed for Wentz, prompting in part Rivera’s post-game outburst in Chicago.
Second, a new stadium for the Commanders, but as the piece from ESPN highlighted, a stadium bill died in Virginia after public outcry.
Snyder’s third prong to keeping the team? According to the ESPN report, it included digging up dirt on fellow owners:
Dan Snyder does this thing when he feels cornered, say those who know him well. He paces in a hotel suite, or on his superyacht, or at River View, his $48 million Virginia estate. Cradling a drink in one hand, he tells members of his inner circle about the dirt he has accumulated on fellow owners, coaches, executives, even his own employees — all the stuff he’s learned from other sources, including private investigative firms. He never says exactly what he knows, only that in his 23 years as owner of the Washington Commanders, he knows a lot. And that in the zero-sum world of billionaires, this is how you survive. Snyder recently told a close associate that he has gathered enough secrets to “blow up” several NFL owners, the league office and even commissioner Roger Goodell.
Fast forward a few days, to the NFL league meetings in New York City. With speculation swirling around Snyder and his place in the league, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke to the media, and offered the first direct criticism of Snyder from one of his peers, and stated that he believed that Snyder needed to go, and that the votes were perhaps in place to remove him:
Irsay added “I think there potentially could be” 24 votes from owners to push out Snyder.
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 18, 2022
Synder, via a representative, pushed back on Irsay’s comments and included a clear statement.
He would not be selling the team:
Statement from a Commanders spokesperson regarding Jim Irsay’s comment that he believes Dan Snyder should be removed as owner of the team: pic.twitter.com/qs7tXzckwR
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 18, 2022
Still, Irsay’s comments offered the first glimpse that the mood among NFL owners could truly be shifting against Snyder. Perhaps most notable was this: There was not an NFL owner who publicly defended Snyder after Irsay’s comments.
Again, if these were the only issues in place, it would be a lot. But we are just at the midway point of what has been a brutal week.
Because then word broke about a bounced check. A Commanders fan who won a 50/50 raffle recently at FedEx Field deposited the check from the team after receiving his winnings.
The check bounced:
Just talked to Drew Shipley, the @Commanders
fan whose $14kprize check from the team bounced after winning the 50/50 raffle week 1. The team paid him what he was owed this afternoon but he remains stunned. “Who am I supposed to talk to? Am I supposed to call Dan Snyder myself?” pic.twitter.com/dSndJ8xBIT
— Eric Flack (@EricFlackTV) October 19, 2022
The team released a statement, indicating that there was a bank error and that the Commanders made an electronic payment to the fan to fix the mistake:
But the damage was done in the eyes of the public, giving more fodder to local radio hosts and writers.
The latest log added to the fire? That involves former tight end Chris Cooley, now an analyst and podcast host. At one time Cooley was a radio host for Washington games and provided film breakdowns on the team’s website. Cooley was selected as one of the team’s ten recent additions to their “90 Greatest Players,” and those ten former Washington players are set to be honored at FedEx Field this Sunday when the Commanders host the Green Bay Packers.
Cooley wants no part of the ceremony:
Chris Cooley says he won’t attend the ceremony Sunday where he’s named one of the franchise’s 90 Greatest.
“I’m very appreciative of being voted in … at this point, I don’t have a lot of desire to be involved with the Washington Commanders.” https://t.co/5geITrau5t
— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) October 20, 2022
Now, there could be more at play here than just Cooley’s overall view of the organization at the moment. He was removed as a radio host a few seasons ago, and while Cooley stated after the move that he hard “no hard feelings,” it could still be a source of tension. Still, it speaks volumes that one of the greatest players in Washington history has decided not to attend a ceremony that will, in part, honor him.
Sunday also has the potential to be a headache for the organization in another way.
Thanks to a promotion to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the organization, fans will receive seat cushions at Sunday’s game. That sounds like a lovely promotion, until you consider that the general state of the fanbase might change how those seat cushions are received.
Commanders giving away seat cushions on Sunday. I say fling them on the field.
— Rick Snider’s Washington (@Snide_Remarks) October 19, 2022
Over 30 years ago, Washington fans created the “Seat Cushion Game” at old RFK Stadium, celebrating a win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Fans, joyous as the home team started to salt away the victory, began flinging the seat cushions onto the field in celebration. The team itself has a page dedicated to the “Seat Cushion Game.”
This year’s team? They truly look 30 years removed from a Super Bowl run.
Perhaps in an effort to avoid a repeat of the “Seat Cushion Game,” albeit for different reasons, the organization will be handing out the cushions after the game on Sunday:
Even with the change, it does little to salvage what has been a rather rough week for Washington.
So again, if you know a Commanders fan, check in on them.