The Josh Harris era has begun for the Washington Commanders as their new owner saw his team’s first victory under his wing – even if it was just a preseason matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
After the game, head coach Ron Rivera delivered a speech in the Commanders’ locker room, where he felt it was only right that Harris receive the game ball for what they hope is the first of many winning feelings.
“This is a start, preseason game, but nonetheless, a win is a win – to our new owner, Mr. Harris,” Rivera said as he gave Harris the ball.
The Commanders’ players called out “Speech!” as they wanted to hear from Harris. He obliged.
“I’m proud to be part of this family, man. Thank you for delivering the win. I love you guys,” he said briefly.
Rivera added, “Let’s get him one for real, too.”
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for Harris’ first taste of the NFL, though, as Rivera pointed out. It is the preseason, though, so rust is to be expected.
“We can make it easier on ourselves by doing the things that we need to get done and get done the right way,” Rivera explained prior to giving the game ball to Harris. “Too many mistakes, too many things that we did that we shouldn’t have done – understand that. Understand we will learn from this, and we will get better from there, but a win is a win. And that’s how you get started – go out and do things that you’re supposed to do when you need to do them.”
Harris purchased the Commanders for a record $6.05 billion from Dan Snyder, whose tenure as the club’s owner was marred with scandals that included a toxic workplace environment and an investigation into sexual harassment.
Since the deal was voted through by the other NFL owners, Harris has quickly shown his face around the team’s facilities, being present for the team’s first practice and making sure he was watching the entire first preseason game as well.
Harris, who also owns stakes in the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, knows what it takes to produce a quality product on and off the playing field while making sure fans are happy with the organization.
“First of all, it’s the city’s team – it’s not my team,” Harris, who grew up in the D.C. area, said via NBC Washington after the game. “But it was amazing. I’m so happy to be here and be part of it, and a win’s a win, preseason or not. Everyone’s healthy and let’s go.”
The Commanders were dead last in fan attendance last year and 31st in 2021. But the arrival of Harris has already seen enthusiastic fans returning to practices and now the team’s first preseason game – and that was on the road.
Washington will host their first-ever game at FedExField under Harris, and fans are expected to flood the stands with optimism for this season and beyond under new leadership.
Harris may be focused more on Sept. 10 when the Commanders open Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, but Aug. 21 against the Baltimore Ravens will certainly be another milestone as he sees the home crowd for the first time.