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.
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.”
Rivera hired Jennifer King as a full-year coaching intern, the first woman to coach for the organization.
Snyder banned coaches and scouts from traveling as concerns escalated over the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
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.
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.
After nearly three months of working from home, Washington’s coaches were allowed to return to the team facility in Ashburn.
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.
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.
The team announced it would scrub Marshall’s name from all team material.
Washington retired the team’s name.
The Washington Post published allegations from 15 women detailing sexual harassment and verbal abuse by fellow employees during their time working for the franchise.
Washington hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the allegations and the team’s workplace culture.
Julie Donaldson was hired as the team’s senior vice president of media, making her the highest-ranking female employee in franchise history.
Washington announced it would play the 2020 season as the Washington Football Team.
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.
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.
Jason Wright, a 38-year-old former NFL running back, was hired by Washington as the first Black president of an NFL team.
Rivera announced he had been diagnosed with cancer.
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.”
The NFL assumed control of Washington’s investigation into its culture.
Likely future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson was released.
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.
Smith was added to the 53-man roster, putting him third in line at quarterback.
Washington earned an upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Rivera’s debut, which also featured a demonstration of racial solidarity.
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.
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.
Rivera completed his cancer treatments.
Smith started his first game since returning, a defeat at the Detroit Lions.
Washington entered intensive protocols after Matt Ioannidis, a defensive lineman on injured reserve, tested positive for the coronavirus.
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.
Washington beat Cincinnati, improving its record to 3-7 and sparking a push to the playoffs.
Washington thumped Dallas on Thanksgiving, giving the team the lead in the NFC East.
Washington stunned undefeated Pittsburgh, establishing itself as the NFC East favorite.
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.
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.
Young was named a captain in place of Haskins, cementing the rookie’s rise to team leadership.
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 released Haskins, ending the 2019 first-round draft pick’s brief and tumultuous tenure.
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.
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.