Today marks the 12th anniversary of Dan Snyder selling five-year anniversary 9/11 memorabilia for profit.
The crassest marketing campaign ever cooked up by the crassest marketer of his or anybody else’s generation came was launched on Sept. 11, 2006. I wrote about it at the time, but in the hours before kickoff of the Skins game against the Minnesota Vikings to open his eighth season as an NFL owner, Snyder ran ads on his sports radio stations telling fans they could “commemorate Sept. 11” by ordering special hats that were, according to the commercials, only for sale via his team’s official website.
The front page of that site showed a picture of what was called a “Pentagon Flag Hat,” which was just a black baseball cap with the team’s trademark curly “R” in gold, plus a patch in the shape of the Pentagon in the colors of the American flag sewn on the side. All for just $23.99 apiece. “Pre-order now!” implored the pitch. The ad added that the sacred caps were “expected to be worn by the Redskins coaches” on the sidelines during the Vikings game.
To confirm if the coaches indeed wore the hats, I went back and looked at the game, which is now on Youtube. And shots from ESPN cameras during the telecast showed that some of Joe Gibbs’s assistants even did!
The whole video proves to be a gripping time capsule. Turns out the Skins-Vikings game was the Tony Kornheiser’s debut in the Monday Night Football booth, complete with a foreshadowingly chuckle-free interview with Jamie Foxx that was bizarrely shoehorned into the broadcast in hopes of making the new announcer likable.
Foxx and the hosts spent some of their mid-game chat ogling future paramour Katie Holmes as she sat in the owner’s box with her then-husband Tom Cruise, who at the time was going to be Snyder’s entre to Hollywood. Here are a couple screencaps of period-piece weirdness, but, well, watch the whole thing for yourself.
But back to Snyder keeping it crassy: There wasn’t even a hint in Snyder’s hat-selling campaign that a single dime of the cash spent on the pricey tribute headwear would go to any charity. Nah, all the patriotic profits from the flag hats were going straight to Snyder. No other NFL team sold trinkets noting the anniversary of the tragedy on that opening day. Good god.
Disclosure: Dan Snyder once sued me for writing mean things about him. Yesterday was the anniversary of him dropping the suit. Tony Kornheiser, unlike Snyder, once did get me fired, from a $75-a-week job writing about horse racing for the Washington Post, for writing mean things about him.