The following is not going to win me any popularity contests. Nevertheless, it needs to be said.
Yesterday, I penned a column contending that while Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan had his faults, it would be foolish to not credit him with professionalizing the Washington Redskins. Whether it’s player personnel decisions, installing an actual system and philosophy or holding players accountable, Shanahan has changed the culture at Redskin Park. Sure, the Burgundy and Gold may not be ready to contend for a Super Bowl title yet. Sure, Shanahan has made mistakes.
Still, after years of dysfunction, the Redskins are unquestionably a playoff contender. And Shanahan deserves credit for that.
But so does someone else.
Yes, while Shanahan clearly casts a large shadow at Redskin Park, the buck ultimately stops with owner Daniel Snyder. Still, only 48 years old, Snyder has owned the Redskins since 1999. In that time, he has (amongst other things) sued season ticket holders, charged fans for tailgate areas, banned signs from FedEx field and threatened a lawsuit against a Washington newspaper. Further, Snyder has made a mess of personnel and coaching decisions, spending lavishly on countless free-agent duds, and employing seven head coaches. Yet the redskins have won a mere two playoff games in his 14 seasons as owner.
Also, on the rare occasion, Snyder does speak publicly. His detached, awkward demeanor does nothing to dispel the notion of him as a heartless, cutthroat business mogul, intent on bleeding every last penny out of his season ticket holders. In short, Snyder arguably displays all the detestable hallmarks of the free-spending Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, with none of the bravado that endears Jones. And it probably doesn’t help that it is well-known that Snyder considers Jones a friend.
But you know what? That’s okay.
Yes, as long as Snyder continues the approach he has taken since hiring Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen, Redskins fans are going to be okay with the owner. Because after years of constantly changing coaches, meddling in personnel decisions and play calling and overall running an embarrassment of a franchise, Snyder has taken a step back.
No longer does he make a spectacle of free-agency, flying Redskin One around the country, bringing star players to D.C for 10 hour dinners at Morton’s. No longer does he have former personnel man, racquetball buddy and blowhard extraordinaire Vinny Cerrato making personnel decisions. No longer does Snyder meddle in play calling and personnel decisions.
Rather, Snyder has finally done what all Redskins fans have wanted for years, which is let professional football people run the Washington Redskins in a professional football manner.
So, at the end of the day Snyder can raise ticket prices, charge insane prices for parking and concessions and continue to come up with creative ways to squeeze every last dollar out of Redskin fans. That, combined with his unlovable public demeanor, will probably never make Snyder popular.
But after years of overseeing a dysfunctional franchise, Snyder has finally brought in professionals and from all indications, allowed them to operate without interference.
Of course, Snyder’s new approach does not guarantee that the Redskins will become a perennial playoff team and/or Super Bowl contender. However, for arguably the first time since Snyder became owner, it is an actual possibility.