Redeeming Daniel Snyder’s Rep

ASHBURN, VA - NOVEMBER 27:  Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder answers questions during a press conference about the death of safety Sean Taylor at Redskins Park November 27, 2007 in Ashburn, Virginia. Taylor died this morning after being shot in his Miami, Florida home yesterday morning.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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The rehabilitation of Danny Snyder’s reputation takes another turn for the better in an upcoming (Oct. 11, 2010) Forbes Magazine profile. The Passion of Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder article was released online today on Forbes.com.

While noting Snyder’s desperation to win a Super Bowl and his habit of plowing his fortune back into the team, Forbes author Monte Burke calls Snyder “the most reviled owner in professional sports.”

Naysayers point to the Redskins’ failure on the field during his 11-year tenure (only three winning seasons and an overall record of 75–96); his imperious personality (he’s been accused of demanding that employees address him as ‘Mr. Snyder’); his ‘meddling’ ways (seven different coaches); his profligate spending on overhyped coaches and over-the-hill players ($5 million a year for college coach Steve Spurrier, who went 12–20 in two seasons; a five-year, $23 million contract for 37-year-old defensive lineman Bruce Smith). ‘I have made some mistakes,’ Snyder admits.

Would fans prefer a cheapskate, asks Burke?

No, but there is little to choose between no spending and stupid spending. The name Albert Haynesworth appears nowhere in the story.

The Forbes story is a positive one, highlighting Snyder’s entrepreneurial ventures that built the fortune that enabled him to buy the Washington Redskins. It’s the third such public placement of Snyder since the Redskins hired Tony Wyllie as communications guru.

Wyllie may or may not have had anything to do with the Forbes article, but he was present when Snyder made himself available to the Hogs Haven bloggers last August. (“Call me Dan.”) Snyder barely makes himself available to the media, but Wyllie opened the door to a pair of citizen journalists from the fan community. Kudos to him and Snyder for that.

The second unusual Snyder sighting came in the form of a pizza commercial where a smiling, jocular Snyder was shown with friend and rival owner Jerry Jones.

 

The third placement is this Forbes story. Forbes is an investment magazine. If they were a sports journal, they would not have been so sanguine about The Danny’s moves.

Snyder’s fall and rise

Firing coaches, missing on talent, even a prickly personality are not the roots of fan ire. Shortcuts to winning while eschewing sound management leading to a 10-year losing record does that. To err on player talent is human. To forgive dum-bass player contracts that hamstring the team is…too much to ask.

It is, or maybe was, player contracts that trips Snyder. He wanted to be the deal-making high-roller of this outfit. No one could restrain him. The notorious Haynesworth contract would have been better used for a B-list wide receiver who contributes and a pair of better-selected offensive linemen.

Yet, we’re not so quick to attribute Snyder’s football failures to character. We’ve never met the man. Instead we suspect Snyder’s entrepreneurial spirit lead him astray. He’s not be the first entrepreneur whose sense that his personal vision brought value to his venture kept him from hiring and keeping quality management.

Few have taken the fall that Snyder has. His reputation was at an all-time peak in 2007 when he showered the Redskins with support following Sean Taylor’s death. That helped us all fell better.

Then the Redskins rationalized suing fans over tickets when no other NFL club pursued the practice. Worse, it emerged that the Redskins used choice season tickets as enticements to sell high priced club seats.

Snyder was not out front on the issue. When fans wanted answers from Dan the Man, we were introduced to David Donavan, then general council, now team COO.

Snyder’s executive leadership failures and its effect on the football product were on display throughout 2009. None worse than how he mismanaged Jim Zorn’s exit. Zorn is still on the Redskins payroll, so why not dismiss him outright and with dignity rather than try to shame him into quitting. No fan wanted Zorn to stay, but Snyder made us feel sorry for him just as he once made us feel sorry for Norv Turner. Is this a class outfit, or ain’t it?

Nothing succeeds like success and nothing will help Snyder more than a few titles. Meanwhile, here is my test of whether or not Snyder has changed. When I next go to a game and buy a GAMEDAY program, I want to see profiles of the people we value, coaches and players, on the opening spread, not a two-page bio of The Danny. Show me that, and I will start to believe that Snyder gets it. The team is not about him.

Listening, Mr. Wyllie?

Related Story, Feinstein On The Brink:…gloom again in Snyder-ville

 

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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