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Josh Harris and the ownership group's top 3 priorities in leading the Commanders' organization

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Josh Harris and the Washington Commanders' new ownership group are about as excited as anyone can be about getting to lead the franchise. 

But as Harris said during Friday's press conference introducing the new ownership group, it takes more than being a fan to build a championship franchise, and there's going to be a lot of work ahead of them. 

"The opportunity is here," Harris said as he raised his hand above his head. "And the work is up here. And that's just fine for us. That's what we're about." 

There are several things Harris and the ownership group want to do now that they're in charge of the organization. They want to win, and they're willing to do what it takes to accomplish that. But out of all that needs to be done, Harris often deferred to three priorities when asked about the direction going forward. 

"We've got to get the team ready to win football games, we've got to get out in the community and start to pay it forward, as Magic [Johnson] said," Harris said. "And we've got to change the stadium and change the fan experience."

Harris has firsthand experience in seeing Washington as a premier franchise on the field. He grew up watching Washington win three Super Bowls and idolizing players like Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer, Joe Theismann, Mark Rypien, Doug Williams, Joe Gibbs, the Hogs, Darrell Green and John Riggins.

Harris is eager to get the franchise back to that level.

"I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to this city to win championships, to create a positive impact on the community, and to create great experiences and memories for future fans, just like I had growing up as a kid," Harris said.

Ron Rivera, entering his fourth season as the Commanders' head coach, is the first in the Harris era to help him reach that goal. Harris has watched as a fan as Rivera has worked towards turning a roster that was 3-13 in 2019 into a consistent winner.

From what Harris has seen, the product on the field has improved during Rivera's tenure. Players like Terry McLaurin and Jonathan Allen, both of whom were in attendance on Friday, are considered some of the best at their respective positions. The defense, led by Allen and the defensive front, are coming off a Top 5 finish in yards allowed.

The Commanders finished the year 8-8-1, but a 6-1 stretch in the middle of the season put them in playoff contention. With wins like the upset over the Philadelphia Eagles as well as the last-minute victory over the Indianapolis Colts, the Commanders showed resilience and proved they have talent to seriously compete with the best in the league.

Harris and Rivera have already had discussions about Washington's future, and all of their conversations have centered around one thing: winning.

"Winning is the primary focus, and this group has pledged that they will support us in working towards the goal of making this team a consistent winner," Rivera said. "We have an exciting and young team hungry to perform for all of our great fans."

Harris stressed the significance of the 2023 season.

"This is a big season, and we look forward to learning and watching and seeing what happens," Harris said. "I'm very excited to be spending time with Coach Rivera and his staff and players and understanding what's going on, and I'm very supportive right now of what they're doing."

Harris and his partners know there are other factors that play a role in building a championship franchise. You win, Harris said, by investing, and engaging in the community is one of their main areas of focus.

That is where Johnson will play a large role with the organization. Of the several subjects he touched on during his opening statement, Johnson continued to reiterate that the community is one of the areas where he will be the most active, and he sees it as a continuation of what the Washington Legends who were in attendance started during their playing careers.

"We see the winners in the front row," Johnson said. "Not only did they win Super Bowls, but they also made the community great. And we want to invite the community to be a part of what we're building here."

Johnson is more familiar with the DMV and its sports fans than one might think. Aside from playing games in Washington, D.C., during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson said that he has "done a lot of business in this city, building Starbucks, Washington Hilton, on and on and on."

So, Johnson is aware of how passionate the fan can be, and he wants them to be involved in rebuilding the culture.

"That's going to be a part of my role -- to get out into the community and help them understand what we're doing, how we're doing it," Johnson said. "And also we want to give back. We want to make an impact on this great community that we're doing business in."

Fans in general will be one of the biggest priorities for Harris and his partners, which is why he also emphasized creating a better experience for fans at FedExField. He often compared the stadium to the organization's "house," and when someone invites guests to their house, it's important to treat them well.

"You don't have couches that are broken," Harris said. "You don't have TVs that aren't working. So we've got to get after all that, and that's what we're focused on right now."

Harris wants to create a fan experience like what the fan base had at RFK during the franchise's Super Bowl runs. Some of his best memories are of walking to Washington's previous venue, and moments such as the bleachers bouncing as fans chanted "We want Dallas!" are likely to be just as significant to him as the fan base.

Harris admitted that improving the current fan experience is going to take time, but he added that "we're going to make a dent in it as fast as we can."

"We would love to have a stadium where the opposing players fear to come, and our fans love to come, and our players love to come and feel welcomed."

Harris understands that fans are impatient. He gets it, because he's impatient, too. But he also knows that in order to build a championship organization, it takes time to get everything right.

And that is worth the wait.

"This is not going to be easy," Harris said. "My job is to deliver an organization that can win. It's on me, and it's on us up here [on the stage]. Our work begins today, and I'm so excited to be on this journey together with the city."

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