I’ve been noting throughout the summer that Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has seemingly taken a recent interest in public opinion. He hired an outside group to conduct a town-hall-type fan forum earlier this summer, and also commissioned an email survey soliciting fan feedback, in which many of the questions were about him specifically.
Understandably, the faithful followers of the Burgundy and Gold find this sudden interest in the approval of the unwashed masses, pretty rich. After all, Snyder is the guy who has banned signs from FedExField, sued season ticket holders, regularly raised parking and ticket prices and even threatened to sue a boutique D.C. news outlet that he believed contained anti-Semetic images. Snyder, of course, is Jewish.
Somewhat humorously, or maybe not at the time, Mike Madden of Washington City Paper responded that the image depicted was not anti-Semitic rather looked “like a devil.” Yes, according to Madden, he saw no issue in equating Snyder to a devil-like figure.
Making matters worse, Snyder’s notoriously incompetent PR people weighed in on the subject. David Donovan, one of his executives, said at the time, “the cost of litigation would quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper.”
Yes, for all those who seemed to think this was an instance of the corporate bully picking on some boutique newspaper operation, Donovan well, confirmed just that.
While I can go in this vain, the long and short of it is Snyder has an image issue. While people within the Redskins organization often speak fondly of him, Snyder is very unpopular amongst the Redskins fan base.
Privately liked. Publicly loathed.
Further, I’ve also argued that Snyder’s public image is not going to turn around anytime soon. Although he deserves credit for the franchise’s improved form, there are simply too many years of ill will toward the owner.
I’ll also give you another thing that isn’t going to help Snyder’s public image: going on the radio with former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, which Snyder did yesterday.
Aside from the fact Cooley is somewhat wet behind the ears as a broadcaster, the perception — which Snyder clearly seems to not understand — is Cooley is an easy interview. Cooley, who became a rich man playing for Snyder, is not going to ask the tough questions. And even if he does, the perception is that it is basically a lollipop interview.
In other words, an interview with Cooley is not what Redskins fans want from Snyder. They don’t want to hear Cooley thanking him for years of playing for him. They don’t want to hear how’s he walking around Richmond during Training Camp.
They want Snyder to go in front of someone who is going to ask the tough questions. They want someone who will ask why he sued season ticket-holders, and whether he is really different from the meddlesome owner who undermined coaches and coordinators earlier in his tenure. And considering Snyder rarely speaks in public, the fact such an instance gets wasted, so to speak, only further alienates Redskins fans.
Plus, it reinforces the notion that Snyder is withdrawn and only speaks in certain settings and forums, in which he is in control. Of course, that may in fact be the case. Snyder may in fact, not want to answer some of those questions. And herein lies the rub.
If his public image is going to change, he needs to do just that. While one could argue there were some interesting tidbits in the Cooley interview, that is not the perception.
And until the publicly-uncomfortable owner makes that realization, I don’t see much, if anything, changing.
Brian Carroccio is a Washington Redskins blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter and add him to your network Google.