Someday, Dan Snyder is going to get media-wise and will not respond inappropriately to bad press. When that happens, he will cease to provide fodder that the media and bloggers turn into bad press for Snyder.
That, my friends, is the second-biggest fear I have about Snyder. My biggest fear is that he will run the Washington Redskin in the future as he has in the past.
What would we write about on a slow news Redskins day if we didn’t have another Snyder gaff to dissect?
The Style Section of today’s Washington Post carried the story that Snyder will sueThe Washington City Paper for its unflattering November 2010 story The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder. The inevitable result of news of Snyder’s threatened lawsuit and efforts to force the City Paper to sever ties to the author? More derision.
And you hoped Snyder has changed. I hoped he changed even as I harbored suspicion that he was just laying low in the weeds like that lunker bass in a Potomac stream.
In 2009, Snyder battled bad press when news broke that the Redskins were suing financially distressed fans who could not meet their obligations to buy corporate seats to Redskins games. The face of the miscreants turned out to be someone’s 72-year old grandma who lost her business and lived on $400.00 in monthly Social Security payments.
Now, I bet there was good business reason for the team to sue that poor old lady. There may be good reason for Snyder to go all emotional over an author who has become a thorn in his side the way Jason La Canfora once did.. But it was a poor business decision to do so. All of these were no-win scenarios for Snyder.
I had hoped Snyder learned from that. Now I just wonder.
2009, a very bad year
The story about lawsuits for grandma opened the disastrous 4-12 year for the Redskins. The most revealing stories about Snyder didn’t appear on the sports pages. They appeared on the business pages with news that Snyder was dumped by the Six Flags board of directors for a leadership style that mirrors his approach to running the Redskins.
Slick marketing tie-ins could not boost cash flow enough to pay off massive debt (not of Snyder’s creation). Six Flags was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange and went into bankruptcy just as the Redskins opened the 2009 season.
While fans watched their post-season hopes erode to zero, Six Flags investors watched their stake in the company erode to zero. Dave McKenna, who chronicled Snyder’s Redskins gaffs for The City Paper, recounted his Six Flags slide for Slate.
Season ticket-holders don’t have the juice that investors do. ‘Skins fans were reduced to Sell the Team Dan campaigns. Six Flags investors didn’t need tee shirts or web sites. They just kicked Snyder out.
What this means for Redskins fans
Failure is a harsh teacher, but an effective one. We learn more from our losses than from our wins. Redskins fans hope Snyder learned from his experience at both Six Flags and the Redskins. Successful franchises have successful ownership. The Redskins cannot succeed until Snyder succeeds as an effective owner-leader.
Stories that Snyder is dissipating energy threatening writers instead of total focus on building a winner is evidence he is not on a successful path.
It’s just evidence at a moment in time. It’s not conclusive proof. In the long run, winning games will do more for Snyder’s image than threatening small newspapers. In the short run, sharing a Bud Lite with McKenna wont hurt, either.