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Dan Snyder Loves the Redskins

February 9, 2011

There were three losses in the sports world that left deep scars in my prepubescent body in the ’90s.

April 5, 1993, 1993 National Championship, UNC 77 – Fab Five 71 – 8-year-old John cried big salty tears after Chris Webber’s ill-fated extra timeout in April 1993. Stumbling upstairs to bed, I didn’t understand why CWebb couldn’t call a timeout when his team didn’t have any remaining. I just knew it felt like somebody stole all of my G.I. Joes when he did.

October 9, 1996, 1996 ALCS, NYY 5 – BAL 4 (11) – 12 year-old Jeffrey Maier punched me in the face that day he sprung the Yankees to a 5-4 victory in 11 innings over the Orioles in Game One of the ’96 ALCS, and I haven’t forgiven him for it.

January 15, 2000, Playoffs, Tampa Bay 14 – Washington Redskins 13 – The 1999 season was the last time we won our division, and had a home playoff game. After blowing a 13-0 lead in the second half, the Redskins gave up 14 unanswered points, and finished things off with a botched snap on a field goal attempt as time expired. In retrospect, in some ways, we lost the Redskins that night.

My story as a Redskins fan isn’t that much different from most fans of my age group. Inevitably, they mostly start the same way: lifetime DC-area resident, family loved the ‘Skins, season-ticket holders. That’s my story. That’s Chad Dukes’ story that he shared on the radio during his 13-minute long rant last season requesting an apology from the team after the 59-28 loss to the Eagles.

Up until 1999, that’s also Dan Snyder’s story. After May of 1999 though, his story as a lifelong Redskins fan dramatically diverged from the rest of us when we purchased the team, and after that loss in Tampa and our last home playoff victory the week before, we haven’t had much to be happy about.

While Snyder has had a particularly unsuccessful stint as owner, he has been increasingly subjected to a significant amount of negative vibes, most recently coming to a fever pitch over a much read and discussed index listing in City Paper detailing his failings from A to Z.

I don’t know anything about the law or legal proceedings, so I’ll avoid discussing the lawsuit surrounding the article (if that’s your thing, though, the NY Times had a good piece about it earlier this week). But, as a lifelong Redskins fan, I am happy to comment on his recent attempts to publicly defend himself.

The game plan for recovering Snyder’s image has revolved around projecting the fact that he has loved the Redskins his entire life, and that basically, aside from his $1.3 billion, he’s a fan just like us.  This week he further hammered that home when he explained in an interview, “What’s difficult for me as a fan and as the owner of the team is just losing. It’s heartbreaking. It takes me a couple days after a loss to be functioning again because it’s so traumatizing.”

While I can’t second guess his PR people who are highly paid and likely have several years of experience, there’s a problem with statements like that coming from the owner of a particularly unsuccessful sports franchise.

Let’s pretend that you don’t have a car, and you rely on a friend and co-worker as your only means of getting to work each day. Let’s also pretend that this friend is not a particularly skilled driver, and has gotten into a series of accidents on the way to work with you as a passenger. If after 12 years of steering you into many horrific near-death accidents that have sparked several public arguments about his terrible driving habits, imagine how you would you feel if he told you, “You know what’s difficult for me? Watching this car go head on into oncoming traffic. It breaks my heart to see it every time, and it takes me a few days to really get back to normal because it’s so traumatizing.”

How about some accountability? How about something along the lines of “what’s difficult for me as the owner of this team is knowing that a number of my decisions have directly impacted the poor results of this franchise.” Or, “what’s difficult for me is knowing that this fan base is largely upset as a result of my apparent inability to learn from my past mistakes.”

Like Chad Dukes, I would like an apology, but also some kind of acknowledgement that he’s played a significant role in the failures of the franchise. If he doesn’t, and the terrible seasons continue, the relationship with the fan base will continue to suffer, and may reach irreparable levels, as the Wall Street Journal discussed last year.

In the end, it’s the fact that he largely avoids pointing the finger at himself that makes it so easy to paint him as the villain in this town. Sometimes it isn’t as easy as saying you, personally, are sorry, but it would definitely be a start.

How do you feel? Is there anything short of a winning season that Snyder could offer to let the healing start for you?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric Fisher permalink
    February 9, 2011 12:33 pm

    let’s go ahead and sue him. the goal being to beat the Cowboys by receiving more damages more quickly than Jerry Jones settles on his little Super Bowl seating fiasco.

    • February 9, 2011 12:49 pm

      Eric, don’t you know that answering frivolous lawsuits with frivolous lawsuits would just lead to world of the penniless ruled by rich successful lawyers? Wait…

  2. Jeff Luther permalink
    February 9, 2011 1:23 pm

    I’m cool with a lawsuit per Eric, but really it should be based on the fact that as a Skins fan I’m really annoyed that I have no argument against ex-Skins-now-turned-Ravens. Who else has had this situation?… someone tells you they jumped ship to the Ravens and all you want to say is wow you’re such a bandagon-hopping front-running unloyal $%%^^&…but do you have any basis at all to say that anymore? Do you have any argument at all for why someone should continue to support the Burgundy and Gold (more like yellow) thereby supporting Sndyer? Nope, and that really grinds my gears (Eric, like the Fam Guy reference there?).

  3. Eric Fisher permalink
    February 9, 2011 3:49 pm

    love it.

    totally makes me want mustard on my hot dog yellow. and for jumping on board the ravens bandwagon…well, let’s let Juan open that can of worms another time. hopefully the draft doesn’t spark the conversation. trade down please, Mike. thanks.

  4. The Dune permalink
    February 9, 2011 9:48 pm

    Even I, the ever-positive, unjustifiably optimistic fan, am getting tired of HAVING to watch this team. I want to love them, we all do, but they make it so hard. How nice was it watching football the last few weeks and not have to WORRY about the Skins game? At least when the Caps were bad from 2003-07, we knew it was in the long term best interest of the team. Come on Danny Boy – the blueprint is there and right under your nose! Leonsis did it, the Ravens have done it – land your helicopter in Chinatown or Fed Hill and take some notes. COME ON MANNNNN.

    We’ll see what Bruce and Mike can do, but based on the last year or so, its hard to believe they can pull it off. I mean, no one can explain why Bruce would think starting McSnatch behind a makeshift offensive line would work, but McNabb did handle the situation well. And maybe Shanahan was just a little rusty with his game management and PR skills. Welp, theres that optimism again – and yes, I already sent my check in for the 2011 season, and yes I already have my Cam jersey ordered…

    • February 10, 2011 1:47 pm

      It apparently isn’t obvious enough that we need more than new folks in the front office; we need a completely different mindset, which painfully is being put on display so close by that its amazing Bruce and Dan haven’t picked up on it yet. Maybe if revenues tank some they’ll wake up. At this point, I’m really curious if the franchise could rebound and keep going strong after a year long lock out.

      In the meantime, despite remaining optimistic that our fortunes could turn, I’m going to continue to vote against the current regime with my wallet. With Santana gone, its all White #36 from here on out for Juan.

  5. The Metz permalink
    February 9, 2011 11:33 pm

    I thought this where we talk about how much we hate Duke. Duke sucks.

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