Has anyone else noticed Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder‘s recent fascination with public opinion?
Last month, the team sponsored a focus group town-hall type seminar to obtain feedback from fans on a variety of issues. More recently, an online survey was sent out asking fans, amongst other things, what they think of the team’s leadership, and numerous questions asking for feedback regarding Snyder, in particular.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find all this sudden concern over the approval of the unwashed masses a bit odd?
Now, it is well known Snyder has always been something of an affection hound. To be clear, this is not a criticism. The desire to have the approval of others does not make Snyder a bad person, and this is something any of us can relate to.
Through the years, he has established relationships with star players such as Clinton Portis, and other Redskins dignitaries such as Hall of Famers coach Joe Gibbs and quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. Currently, Snyder has a very close relationship with quarterback Robert Griffin III. While he has had some less than cordial relationships, there are many respected Redskins past and present, who seem to have a fondness for Snyder.
Also, it should be noted that Snyder has historically been incredibly generous from a charitable perspective. Further, his humanitarian efforts have been done without seeking personal notoriety.
Still, this much is likewise clear: positive sentiment regarding Snyder rests almost exclusively amongst those within the Redskins organization, but is non-existent amongst the team’s rabid fan base.
Liked privately, loathed publicly.
And in fairness, the average fan isn’t necessarily inclined to love a billionaire team owner, who rarely speaks publicly, and is incredibly awkward, cold and aloof on the odd occasion he does. Further, suing season ticket holders, banning signs from games and overseeing a dysfunctional franchise as Snyder has during his time as owner isn’t exactly the recipe for endearing one to the masses.
To be fair, Snyder deserves credit for the Redskins turnaround in recent years, after a decade of total dysfunction. Still, the damage with the Redskins fan base was done, and isn’t changing significantly anytime soon.
I’ve also written that all these surveys and town-hall meetings conducted through intermediaries only reinforce the notion that Snyder is a detached and aloof individual. A better approach for the owner would be some sort of regular public appearance a few times a year, where he shows his face, answers questions, displays a self-deprecating side and reinforces his support for his coach, players and organizational structure. In the meantime, he can thank the fan base for their ongoing support, and reiterate the organization is doing what it can to improve.
Granted, Snyder is incredibly uncomfortable in such situations. However, the only other thing I see helping Snyder’s relationship with the fan base is something the owner does not have direct control of: winning.
Yes, if the Redskins start winning Super Bowls, or at the very least, become regular playoff contenders, a lot will be forgiven and forgotten. While it can be debated in other forums, whether this is good or bad, we are a society that likes winners. We will overlook the odd misstep if victory is achieved.
In the meantime, a little bit of his showing his face, and displaying a more relaxed, self-deprecating side may help. But surveys, polls and town hall meetings aren’t going to do the trick.
And I imagine, the fact Snyder knows exactly what will, is probably a difficult thing to swallow.