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It has been a whirlwind offseason for the Washington football team. From a forced name change to allegations of sexual harassment within the organization, this is not what the new chapter is supposed to look like for the D.C. football team.
When coach Ron Rivera accepted the head coach position, he vowed to create a better culture but instead of focusing on a fresh start, Rivera is cleaning up one mess after the other. Now the question becomes if he is getting more than he bargained for with his new team and where do they go from here.
While the past few months could be considered overwhelming for a new coach, Rivera seems to be the right person to handle these situations. Let’s start with the team’s commitment to change their name after pressure mounted from title sponsors and other major brands. Rivera was a voice of reason.
He revealed that the team was already in discussion with the league about a possible name change prior to it becoming a widespread topic. Rivera also said his eyes are wide open after researching the name’s origin and believes a change should be made.
“We want to do this in a positive way,” Rivera said. “We came up with a couple of names – two of them I really like.”
He also noted that “this issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military.”
Once the smoke cleared, the energy around a new name took over social media with fans sharing possibilities along with logo and uniform samples. Just when things were moving in a positive direction, whispers of a big story dropping from the Washington Post began to overshadow the name change.
For a week, rumors swirled about what was coming down the pipeline and it was fueled even more by the firings of Pro Personnel Director, Alex Santos and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel, Richard Mann II. A few days later, radio play-by-play announcer and Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael, abruptly retired.
The following Thursday, the long-awaited Washington Post article revealed that 15 women experienced sexual harassment while working for the organization. The men that recently left were directly implicated in the article.
Once again, Rivera stepped up as one of the first voices to speak after the allegations were made public.
“Biggest thing is that we have to move forward from this and make sure everybody understands we have policies that we will follow and that we have an open door policy with no retribution. Plus my daughter works for the team and I sure as hell am not going to allow any of this!”
So how exactly does Washington move forward? It will start with owner Dan Snyder taking full responsibility and apologizing for the team’s culture in the past. These issues are still impacting the team today. We more than likely won’t get more than the statement he released following the Washington Post article.
It is also apparent that a leadership structure is needed. Right now there is no General Manager or Team President. This is leaving Rivera as the spokesperson when issues arise which is similar to how it was handled in the past. As for now, it will be up to him to help usher in new policies and procedures throughout the organization.
With training camp starting next week, the team can now focus on football. A key part of Washington cleaning up their image is the product on the football field. Rivera will finally get an opportunity to see his players work. This will temporarily shift the narrative to what the team is accomplishing on the field.
Although Rivera knew he had a lot of work on his hands when he took over in Washington, the events of the past few weeks were certainly not on his radar. If anyone can help move this team forward, it is Ron Rivera. He had similar experiences in Carolina with Jerry Richardson so he is not faint at heart. In fact, in a recent interview, he told the Charlotte Observer that he still has “no regret” taking the Washington job.
With everything going on, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Once a new name is chosen, Washington can start building a new identity with a new regime and Chase Young as the cornerstone of the future.