WASHINGTON — Magic Johnson said there’s a way for new Washington Commanders ownership to help the players maximize their season: Don’t create negativity.
“You don’t have to worry about problems from this ownership,” Johnson said Thursday. “You just have to concentrate on Sundays. You ain’t going to read no headlines. You’re not going to have to worry about nothing. No questions from (the media) about stuff off the field.”
Johnson is one of the limited partners in managing partner Josh Harris’ ownership group that purchased the franchise for a North American-record $6.05 billion in July from Dan Snyder. Washington faced a multitude of controversies during Snyder’s reign, particularly the previous three-plus years amid investigations into allegations of sexual and workplace harassment against Synder and others in the organization.
“Your job is just to concentrate on doing your job and having fun,” Johnson told the players. “Every Sunday, every Thursday, or every Monday. That’s it. That’s exactly what I told them.”
In the D.C. area this week ahead of the Commanders’ regular-season opener Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, Johnson visited the team’s practice facility in Northern Virginia. He spoke with reporters following an event with 200 kids at Washington Boys and Girls Club.
As for the game, his first as an NFL owner, Johnson said he knows the scene at a sold-out FedEx Field is “going to be emotional.”
“My wife is coming. We go to a lot of games. We are a sports family. Cookie and I sit there and (think), ‘We never thought this day would happen.’ That I would be an NFL owner and she would be an NFL owner,” Johnson said. “It’ll be an emotional moment, a great moment. Then, when that kickoff happens, I’m gonna be ready for the Commanders to kick some you know what.”
Washington’s players, most of whom were born after the NBA Hall of Famer retired in 1996, peppered Johnson with questions.
“They really want to win,” Johnson said. “They wanted to hear what I had to say about that. How did I approach the game? How did I prepare for the game? What drove me? I kept telling them I’ve never been satisfied. I’m a guy who wants more, who’s always wanted more. I have 14 championship rings — and I want a Super Bowl ring. How can I help them achieve that?”
“Guys were excited to have him here today,” wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “Coach (Ron) Rivera asked some of the leaders how they felt about that, and of course, we welcomed that opportunity to talk to him but also hear his story. And he took a lot of really good questions. I love how transparent he is, along with Mr. Harris.”
(Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)