Washington NFL

Washington football timeline: From Ron Rivera hiring to playoff exit

Washington football timeline: From Ron Rivera hiring to playoff exit

The 2020 regular season started for the Washington Football Team with a home game against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

It has been an extraordinary year for Washington’s NFL franchise, beginning with the hiring of new coach Ron Rivera in early January 2020 and ending with the team’s surprise run to the postseason, which concluded with Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round. In between there was a name change, a public fight among ownership, the completion of quarterback Alex Smith’s remarkable comeback and much, much more. Here is a timeline of the major events surrounding the team since the start of last year.

Ron Rivera was introduced as Washington’s new coach Jan. 2, 2020. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Jan. 2, 2020

Washington owner Daniel Snyder introduced Ron Rivera as head coach, signaling a new era for the franchise after, three days earlier, firing longtime team president Bruce Allen. Snyder said Rivera would have full control as the team’s “one voice.”

Feb. 10

Rivera hired Jennifer King as a full-year coaching intern, the first woman to coach for the organization.

March 12

Snyder banned coaches and scouts from traveling as concerns escalated over the coronavirus pandemic.

April 23

Washington drafted defensive end Chase Young with the No. 2 pick, positioning the kid from Prince George’s County as a cornerstone of a new era.

April 25

A year-long dispute between franchise legend Trent Williams and the organization culminated in Washington trading Williams to the San Francisco 49ers for two draft picks.

May 14

Washington’s three minority owners informed Snyder they intended to sell their roughly 40 percent stake in the team, according to court documents unsealed later. The bitter dispute would mushroom into an unusually public battle for an NFL team.

June 5

After nearly three months of working from home, Washington’s coaches were allowed to return to the team facility in Ashburn.

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins attends a protest in Washington on June 6. (Var Turner)

June 6

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins marched in Washington as part of mass protests following the killing of George Floyd.

June 19

On Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, the city removed a monument to George Preston Marshall, a prominent segregationist and the franchise’s founder, from the grounds of RFK Stadium.

June 20

Washington retired No. 49, worn by Bobby Mitchell, the first Black player on the last team in football to integrate. The team removed Marshall’s name from the lower seating bowl at FedEx Field and renamed it after Mitchell, who died in April.

June 24

The team announced it would scrub Marshall’s name from all team material.

Washington retired its old name and logo July 13. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

July 3

Washington began a review of the team’s name, bowing to pressure from corporate sponsors, rebutting Snyder’s long-held assertions the name would “NEVER” change and dividing a weary fan base.

July 13

Washington retired the team’s name.

Emily Applegate, a former marketing coordinator for the Washington franchise, alleged in a Washington Post investigation that she was routinely harassed by two team executives throughout her time there in 2014 and 2015. (Celeste Sloman for The Washington Post)

July 16

The Washington Post published allegations from 15 women detailing sexual harassment and verbal abuse by fellow employees during their time working for the franchise.

July 17

Washington hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the allegations and the team’s workplace culture.

Julie Donaldson, hired as senior vice president of media, is the highest-ranking female employee in the history of the franchise. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

July 21

Julie Donaldson was hired as the team’s senior vice president of media, making her the highest-ranking female employee in franchise history.

The franchise played the 2020 season as the Washington Football Team. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

July 23

Washington announced it would play the 2020 season as the Washington Football Team.

August 7

Running back Derrius Guice was released after he was arrested on domestic violence-related charges, including allegedly strangling his girlfriend until she was unconscious.

Daniel Snyder watches training camp in August. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

August 7

Snyder filed a lawsuit in India against an online media company for publishing stories the suit said falsely suggested he consorted with Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender.

Dwayne Haskins watches as Alex Smith takes reps during training camp Aug. 25, nine days after the veteran was activated. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

August 16

Quarterback Alex Smith was activated from the physically unable to perform list, allowing him to participate at practice. It was a monumental step in his recovery from the compound right leg fracture he suffered in November 2018 that threatened his life, leg and football career.

In August, Washington hired Jason Wright, making him the first Black team president in the NFL. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

August 17

Jason Wright, a 38-year-old former NFL running back, was hired by Washington as the first Black president of an NFL team.

August 20

Rivera announced he had been diagnosed with cancer.

A composite image of former employees Tiffany Bacon Scourby, Alicia Klein, Shannon Slate, Megan Imbert and Rachel Engleson. The Post’s second report on the team’s culture included accusations from 25 more women. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post; Jesse Ditmar, Erich Schlegel and Nathan Morgan for The Washington Post)

August 26

The Post’s second report on the team’s culture included accusations from 25 more women and detailed sexist rules as well as lewd videos of cheerleaders produced without their consent. Snyder called the report “a hit job.”

August 31

The NFL assumed control of Washington’s investigation into its culture.

Washington released running back Adrian Peterson on Sept. 4. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Sept. 4

Likely future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson was released.

Sept. 4

The NFL told Snyder to “back off” after the owner’s private investigators rattled former employees by approaching them at their homes or over the phone.

Sept. 5

Smith was added to the 53-man roster, putting him third in line at quarterback.

Washington and Philadelphia players and coaches gathered at midfield before the season opener during the playing of the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Sept. 13

Washington earned an upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Rivera’s debut, which also featured a demonstration of racial solidarity.

Coach Ron Rivera benched quarterback Dwayne Haskins, right, in favor of Kyle Allen on Oct. 7. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Oct. 7

Rivera benched Haskins, a surprising decision despite the quarterback’s uneven play in the first four weeks. The coach said at the time he did it to push for the NFC East title, but it later became clear the decision was more about concerns over Haskins’s preparation and work ethic.

Alex Smith made his long-awaited return to play Oct. 11 against the Los Angeles Rams. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Oct. 11

Smith played in his first game since his devastating injury, completing an arduous comeback and withstanding a brutal sack from Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Oct. 26

Rivera completed his cancer treatments.

Alex Smith made his first start of the season Nov. 15 against Detroit. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Nov. 15

Smith started his first game since returning, a defeat at the Detroit Lions.

Nov. 17

Washington entered intensive protocols after Matt Ioannidis, a defensive lineman on injured reserve, tested positive for the coronavirus.

Washington’s late-season run to the postseason included a 20-9 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 22. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Nov. 20

Details surfaced of the team’s minority owners securing a deal to sell their shares but Snyder blocking it because of a feud with one minority owner.

Nov. 22

Washington beat Cincinnati, improving its record to 3-7 and sparking a push to the playoffs.

Nov. 26

Washington thumped Dallas on Thanksgiving, giving the team the lead in the NFC East.

Wide receiver Cam Sims’s one-handed reception was among the highlights of Washington’s surprising victory over a Pittsburgh Steelers team that had entered the game unbeaten. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Dec. 7

Washington stunned undefeated Pittsburgh, establishing itself as the NFC East favorite.

Dec. 7

The NFL’s investigation into the team’s workplace culture uncovered a confidential settlement later revealed to be a $1.6 million payment from the team to a woman who accused Snyder of sexual harassment.

Dwayne Haskins and Washington lost to the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 20, then controversy enveloped the quarterback after images surfaced of him attending a party without a mask. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Dec. 21

Images surfaced of Haskins, who had started at quarterback for an injured Smith the day before, partying without a mask following the loss to Seattle. Rivera fined Haskins $40,000 and revoked his captaincy but did not release him.

Standout rookie Chase Young was named a team captain Dec. 27. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Dec. 27

Young was named a captain in place of Haskins, cementing the rookie’s rise to team leadership.

Ron Rivera greeted Carolina Coach Matt Rhule after the Panthers’ win Dec. 27, Rivera’s first game coaching against his former team. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Dec. 27

Washington lost to Carolina in Rivera’s first rematch since the team fired him a year earlier, fumbling away a chance to clinch the NFC East.

Washington parted ways with 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins a day after the loss to Carolina. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Dec. 28

Washington released Haskins, ending the 2019 first-round draft pick’s brief and tumultuous tenure.

Dec. 29

The three minority owners accused Snyder of financial malfeasance in a court filing, prompting a federal judge to later admonish Snyder and the minority owners for their “scorched earth” tactics.

Jalen Hurts rushed for an early touchdown in the regular season finale but was later benched in a controversial decision as Philadelphia lost to NFC East champion Washington. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Jan. 3

Washington beat Philadelphia to clinch the NFC East at 7-9, making it just the third team to win a division with a losing record in a non-strike-shortened season. The game was marred by the Eagles’ controversial quarterback switch.

Jan. 9

Washington’s season ended with a 31-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the opening round of the playoffs despite an impressive performance from fourth-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who started in place of an injured Smith.

The season ends for Dustin Hopkins, left, Jeremy Reaves and Washington after a spirited performance in a postseason loss to Tampa Bay. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

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