LOVERRO: Eric Bieniemy hire handcuffs a new Commanders owner

The Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites to win the Super Bowl again next season.

How can that be?

How can you lose as valuable and influential an offensive coordinator as Eric Bieniemy and still be favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions?

Bieniemy’s hiring last week as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach has been hailed by Commanders cult members and those handing out the Kool-Aid as some sort of game-changer, when there is really one move for the Washington franchise that will change the game.

That’s the sale of the team by the owner, Skipper Dan the Sailing Man.

There is nothing else. There is no other story that actually means anything when it comes to this football team. That’s it.

Yet the devoted few fans who still believe the Commanders operate as an NFL franchise — and those who still chronicle the dealings of this team as if it is a normal sports organization, despite all evidence to the contrary — are treating the arrival of Bieniemy as some sort of transformational moment.

It’s still remarkable that the one truth about this team — what I compare to the surgeon general’s warning on a pack of cigarettes — is that nothing will transform, nothing will change, until Skipper Dan sells the franchise and sets sail for parts unknown.

He appears to be on the verge of doing just that. Bidders are reportedly touring the team’s facility in Ashburn. There has been speculation it could happen soon, though there are questions about the price Skipper Dan may be seeking.

There is likely a price that will make it worthwhile for Skipper Dan to sell. The NFL will see to that. They want him gone and may hold the Mary Jo White investigation into former team employee Tiffani Johnston’s allegations of sexual misconduct over the owner’s head if he refuses to exit. He also faces multiple investigations from state and federal law enforcement officials.

The hiring of Bieniemy means almost nothing compared to this — except maybe to handcuff the new owner.

If the best case scenario unfolds, and somehow the team is sold and a new owner is approved by the league meeting at the end of next month, the hiring of Bieniemy will suddenly mean a lot more for this franchise. Forget any possibility, however slim, that a new owner would want to make a big statement right from the start to shake up the zombies and clean house by firing head coach Ron Rivera — that bat has been taken out of his hands.

After all, what’s the new owner going to do — fire Bieniemy a month after he was hired? The man who has become a living, breathing symbol of the racism coursing through the league’s hiring practices? I don’t think so. I’m not even sure a year from now that you could get out of the Eric Bieniemy business if you wanted to.

That would be ironic — from being unhireable to being unfireable.

Of course, there is the scenario that as the assistant head coach, Bieniemy proves himself worthy to be the new owner’s choice as head coach a year from now. He has the credentials: offensive coordinator for a franchise that won two Super Bowls and made the playoffs each of the six years he had the title, despite being passed over as a head coaching candidate 16 times by 15 different teams.

That’s ridiculous. When a team hires someone like Joe Judge to be its head coach like the New York Giants did, it’s hard not to believe that race hasn’t contributed to the ceiling Bieniemy found himself banging his head against.

There were the questions about how big a role Bieniemy had in the success of Kansas City under the thumb of head coach Andy Reid, who has been their team’s primary play-caller. But Reid wouldn’t put someone in that role and keep him there if he didn’t have significant value to the organization.

Then again, the Chiefs seem awfully eager to give Matt Nagy Bieniemy’s job.

Bieniemy was all smiles in the photo of him signing his contract, showing off a Super Bowl ring. Everybody is all smiles when they walk into that building in Ashburn. It’s only later that they leave, beaten and battered. Even if Bieniemy falls short of expectations here, it won’t be his fault. After all, it’s Washington — where failure is in the DNA under Skipper Dan.

If they didn’t give Bieniemy credit for success in Kansas City, they shouldn’t blame him when things invariably go south here.

Meanwhile, the only question that matters is this — what will the new owner think of the hire?

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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