The Washington Commanders have good vibes around them for the first time in what seems like forever after the NFL officially approved the sale of the team to a Josh Harris-led group a little over a week ago.
Those positive vibes have continued into training camp. The practices have been selling out despite the recent heat wave as fan reengagement increases and one big-time fan in particular was in attendance on Friday.
PG County native and future NBA Hall of Famer, Kevin Durant was on the sidelines at OrthoVirginia Training Center at Commanders Park.
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 28, 2023
“It’s my first time here,” Durant told a Commanders staffer as he entered the facility. That sentence will probably be uttered quite a few more times in the coming days as a clean slate in ownership rejuvenates what is a beaten and broken down fanbase.
Josh Harris’ ownership group helped oust former owner Dan Snyder who had become a stain on not only the team but on DC sports in general over his his 20-year tenure. A tenure marked by allegations of misconduct, leading to investigations by both the NFL and the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The latter reported a “toxic work culture” and sexual misconduct within the organization in a report released last December.
Alongside the approval of the long-awaited sale, the NFL released their full report of findings in the investigation they conducted. That report detailed sexual harassment by Snyder, financial impropriety by the team, and failure to cooperate in the investigation, ultimately fining Snyder $60 million on his way out the door.
The team finally has a much needed fresh start. The renewed energy around the team, including KD’s practice attendance, was noted by members of the organization on Friday.
“It is great to have KD here,” head coach Ron Rivera told NBC4 after practice. “I know he’s a local guy. I know how much of a Washington Redskins/Commanders fan he is. Great to have his support.
“It’s great to have the fanbase back. This has been really cool the last couple days. I’m looking forward to tomorrow because a lot of people will be off [work] and are going to be coming. We’re expecting a pretty good crowd. This is exciting. To have guys like KD come back and show their support means an awful lot to us.”
Running back Brian Robinson Jr. added his two cents in his own media availability. “It feel good,” Robinson Jr. said. “You can feel the excitement, you know what I’m saying? Everyone coming out to practice. All the stuff on social media. You feel the excitement and that just gives us more motivation to come out and play hard.”
Durant is a long-time fan of Washington’s football team, having been pictured in attendance at countless games over the years. He spent most of his Friday alongside team president Jason Wright, who dropped a bit of a bombshell in an interview with WUSA9’s Darren M. Haynes later in the day.
The team might be considering yet another name change.
UPDATE: Want the Commanders to change their name, AGAIN??
The NEW owners & Team President Jason Wright are listening.
— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) July 28, 2023
“The fans are talking about it and if the fans are talking about then it’s something you gotta talk about. We can’t just turn a deaf ear to a segment of the fanbase that is passionate about it,” Wright said. “It’s very simple.”
Whether the name changes again or not, the good vibes should stay around the team for the foreseeable future and big-name fans like KD showing up at practices and games should only help drive that further. The Commanders will kick their preseason off in two weeks when they visit the Cleveland Browns on August 11.
Screenshot via @Commanders/Twitter
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