Report reveals Commanders' power struggle before Bill Belichick snub

There was a difference of opinion between two big personalities...
Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders are moving forward with Dan Quinn and Adam Peters as their head coach/general manager combination - the first under Josh Harris' ownership group. They've made an outstanding start in their quest to get this once-proud franchise back on track, adopting a business-first model and bringing in players who fit the new way of thinking without jeopardizing future financial flexibility.

It wasn't always this cut and dry. Speculation was rampant about the Commanders going a little bolder by giving Bill Belichick absolute power. This was a contentious issue among the fanbase, who were burned by Ron Rivera's indifferent four years at the helm when he had the final say on personnel.

Commanders ownership were in two minds over Bill Belichick

A fascinating feature from Jeremy Fowler, Seth Wickersham, and Don Van Natta Jr. from ESPN lifted the lid on the process that eventually led the Commanders to snub Belichick. Perhaps the most interesting revelation centered on Magic Johnson wanting to pull the trigger on the perennial Super Bowl winner before being overruled by Harris, who went with Quinn and a more traditional approach instead.

"Washington seemed to be another good fit, and multiple sources said Belichick was very interested. Commanders minority owner Magic Johnson lobbied hard for Belichick to be the team's new head coach, sources said. Belichick spoke to new Commanders GM Adam Peters, a former Patriots staffer, and said he respected the job Peters had done in personnel since he had left New England, helping the Broncos and 49ers reach a combined three Super Bowls.

"However, principal owner Josh Harris, who had spoken privately with [Robert] Kraft about Belichick, told confidants in early December that he respected Belichick but wasn't going to hire him. He wanted the same leadership structure he has with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils: a strong general manager over a head coach. Harris' hiring of the 44-year-old Peters as GM before he looked for a coach was a big tell that Belichick was not a fit, a decision that Johnson endorsed. A source close to Belichick said the coach had questions about working in a strong-GM system."

It's not hard to see why Johnson desired Belichick. He wants to win and win now. He's made no secret of that. Fortunately for the Commanders, Harris is experienced in running sports franchises and knows how big this rebuilding project is in pursuit of prolonged accomplishments down the line.

There was a degree of mutual interest and respect, but it didn't go any further. When the time came for the Commanders to put Rivera out of his misery, Belichick's name was nowhere to be found on their shortlist of options. Perhaps more surprisingly, every other team looked the other way despite his glittering credentials.

Every dog has his day. Belichick was stubborn and ran things with an iron fist in New England. Once the wheels started falling off after quarterback Tom Brady departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owner Robert Kraft believed there was no option other than to part ways.

Any team that hired Belichick would instantly shrink their window of opportunity. He's 72 years old, there isn't a lot left in the tank. Harris recognized this too, going with a younger duo and a gradual process rather than Johnson's reported intent for a quick fix and putting all the team's chips into the middle immediately.

These latest tidbits are another sign that things are being done differently in Washington. Long may it continue.