SNIDER: Commanders fans expect a victory party


The joy in Mudville is back.

A sold-out FedEx Field, for the first time in a decade and far longer when not factoring visiting fans, welcomes the Washington Commanders' new ownership. It seems tens of thousands of fans who pledged never to give former owner Dan Snyder another dollar are back on Sunday when the Commanders face the Arizona Cardinals.

So is Riggo – the gold standard of the good ol’ days. John Riggins wanted nothing to do with Snyder. The symbol of the team’s Super Bowl glory even blocked the team from selling his jersey as a Commander. Wouldn’t it be great if Riggins bowed to the crowd from midfield like his 1980s act?

Old friends, political allies and those in a town that love big events will fill Landover for the first real joyfest since the 2012 playoffs. Why, even Robert Griffin, whose career and the team’s hopes essentially ended in that postseason game, made a commercial over his return. Of course, he did. This from a guy who pledged to write a tell-all book over Snyder and Co. Guess no one cares how Snyder spends his days now as long as they’re somewhere else?

The ill winds encircling FedEx since Snyder’s 1999 arrival are gone. New vendors with edible food and even half-priced hot dogs are available instead of stale beer and spilt milk.

This is all fine and good until somebody gets punched in the face. And, Arizona has done it before to Washington. Arizona denied visiting Washington a playoff spot in 1998 with a 29-27 late-season victory as big underdogs. It was a trap game in the desert where Washington thought everything would be easy.

Sunday should be easy. Arizona doesn’t have a quarterback, grabbing one of Cleveland’s reserves who showed nothing against Washington in a preseason game. Joshua Dobbs has two career touchdowns in three seasons on rosters. This is exactly the type of nobody passer that plagued Washington over many years.

Arizona really is trying to tank the season for next year’s No. 1 pick Caleb Williams, whose camp is already saying the passer might stay an extra in college to avoid a certain team taking him.

If Washington’s doesn’t beat Arizona 50-0, skeptics will start chipping away at the many unknown pieces of the Commanders. Can the offensive line protect quarterback Sam Howell? Will Howell show his one-game resume was a glimpse of potential or another smoke-and-mirror move that has Washington drafting a first-round quarterback next spring? If that happens, there will be a new coach picking.

Can Chase Young shrug off another injury to return to his 2020 rookie potential or will a doctor mysteriously block the move off a Zoom call? Does a defensive line that looks great on paper look better in opposing backfields?

And, of course, is Eric Bieniemy truly the head coach in waiting while calling offensive plays in his Washington debut?

But that’s too much thinking for a party and that’s exactly what this is – a farewell party to Snyder and a welcoming to new owner Josh Harris, Magic Johnson, Mitchell Rales and enough others to fill the owner’s suite.

It’s escapism for Washington fans that never expected to see Snyder leave until the mountain of sins finally forced the NFL to get rid of Snyder via the sale.

It’s fun once more to be a Commanders fan. Now, let’s see what the team can do.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images