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By Mark F. Gray

Glad to see that as the new year brings in a new decade the same old stuff remains on the D.C. sports scene. For the last 10 years the leadership at the top of the two most storied franchises in the nation’s capital has reduced fan loyalty to abject embarrassment. You can change coaches and front office executives but until ownership stops operating the franchise like Karinne Stephens trying to become the next housewife of name your big city in America failure is the only option.

Daniel Snyder and the late Wizard patriarch Abe Pollin have been committed to their franchises with unfettered resolve since the turn of the century. They have spent money and rolled the dice on what they thought were difference making players, coaches, and executives that have led to zero (as in Agent Zero) championships. The public can complain their teams have underperformed but in fairness it has not been for the lack of effort by ownership.

If the owners are to be held accountable, however, it should be for the open door policy that has allowed players to usurp the authority of their immediate supervisors (head coaches) which has led to their underachievement. Whether it’s the license that Clinton Portis has to not show up at OTA’s with the Burgundy and Gold or Gilbert Arenas manipulating the firing of Eddie Jordan (in conjunction with Ernie Grunfeld), the loyalty of ownership to players of this generation in the district is now approaching groupie status.

For two franchises in desperate need of makeovers the time has come for their ownerships to firm up the matter of loyalty to the right people. The Burgundy and Gold is banking on a second generation architect and the championship pedigree of a head coach who also wears the title of team president. Meanwhile, the Wizards are still in limbo as the cession of their day to day power waits for the NBA to assist with the selection of a new ownership group.

Six weeks ago – despite the underachievement of both teams – there was a sense of more stability in Chinatown. The biggest concern was about roster decisions and whether to the trio of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison would be together for the remainder of the season. Now with Arenas suspended,, the team languishing 20 games below .500, and a black eye on the character of the organization, rebuilding the image of the franchise has replaced rebuilding the roster into that of a contender.

Now with the overhaul of the Burgundy and Gold front office and the hiring of a proven championship winner, they have taken two giant steps toward regaining credibility in town and throughout the NFL. Mercifully, at the top of the football organization there appears to be more character that will give reason for the community to connect with them so that fans can re-commit to that beloved franchise.

We learned last season that despite several prima donnas in the locker room that there is more integrity in Ashburn than there is in Chinatown. With the exception of Butler, Jamison, Brendan Haywood, and Randy Foye “Ernie’s Guys” are a roster of underperforming, embarrassing characters who have succeeded sinking the Wizards back into the abyss that was the mid 80’s through mid 90’s. Hopefully, Ted Leonsis will be able to implement the same business model that has worked for the Capitals and clean house.

This time Michael Jordan is not walking through the door though.