The upcoming NFL season will be the 20th since Dan Snyder purchased the Washington Redskins from the estate of Jack Kent Cooke in May of 1999. To mark the anniversary, the Washington Post has a state-of-the-franchise story up today, sort of a report card for Snyder’s first two cartoonishly dysfunctional decades owning the franchise. (Somehow, it never gets around to mentioning the time in 2011 when Snyder sued our own Dave McKenna, then of the Washington City Paper, for printing true and widely available facts about him under a photo of his face with devil horns drawn on it.)
The club’s perennially sorry performance under Snyder—two playoff wins in 19 years; more than twice as many last-place finishes (eight) as division titles (three); eight head coaches; 20 starting quarterbacks; a collapsing fanbase; the time it was revealed they’d been attempting to pimp out the team’s cheerleaders to wealthy supporters; more public backbiting and needless, and needlessly ugly, divorces than could be recapped in a day—speaks for itself, but it gets plenty of help. The Post’s Adam Kilgore peppers his story with references to anonymous sources who depict Snyder as an isolated, incompetent, radioactive tyrant, alienated from his peers and from the league office, incapable of hearing or integrating dissent. Here’s a great, deadly line from about midway through:
More than one person familiar with him described — or agreed with the description of — Snyder as someone who behaves the way a little kid imagines a rich person acts.
Snyder has his defenders, of course. An employee of his charitable foundation tearfully vouches for his character: Snyder and his wife provided what sounds like extraordinary material support and professional flexibility as her son battled a brain tumor. Sean Taylor’s dad appreciates Snyder’s efforts to stay in touch and provide support in the years since Taylor’s 2007 murder. My favorite ongoing bit in the story, though, is the defense of Snyder’s performance as an actual sports team owner, which comes solely from Stephen Jones, chief operating officer of the Dallas Cowboys and eldest son of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
On the franchise’s prospects for recovery under Snyder:
“You hit rough patches in your franchise’s tenure where things don’t go your way,” Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. “But it just takes the right quarterback and coach and leadership. You look up, and you’ve got a great situation on your hands. … I’ve got nothing but respect for Dan and what he can get done there in Washington. He’s a visionary.”
On whether Snyder is the guy to land the franchise the billion-dollar stadium deal it’s seeking (and so far has failed to land), without outside assistance:
“Dan is an NFL owner; he’s a marketer,” said Stephen Jones, who is on the stadium committee. “He understands business and how to generate revenue. We couldn’t have a better guy at the helm to lead the charge here.”
The once-famous Cowboys-Skins rivalry persists now only in the minds of the absolute saddest and most deluded #HTTR dead-enders. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the Jones’s operation and Snyder’s remain direct on-field competitors within the NFC East. Also, being complemented by the Jones family on your operation of a football team is like being complemented on your judgment and logistical acumen by George Donner. With that in mind, I am not sure whether these quotes are more damning as sincere praise or as poison-tipped darts. All I know is they shouldn’t make anyone feel good about anything.