So last night was supposed to be a big night. ESPN's E60 was going to air a rare, in-depth profile of Dan Snyder. The fairly reclusive, media-shy owner gave ESPN and Rachel Nichols some unique access to learn about what it's like to be the owner of the Washington Redskins.
They even came over to 106.7 The Fan and interviewed yours truly for over an hour to get the fan's perspective on Snyder. We even provided sound clips from callers over the years.
Needless to say I was excited to see the piece.
Wow. What a disappointing segment. I almost wonder if the Redskins paid for it. It seemed like an infomercial. I was ready to whip out my credit card and buy a Redskins grill or something at the end of it.
It started out okay. They talked about how he acquired the team at the age of 34 and made a lot of mistakes along the way. They mentioned the big name free agent busts that have come through Washington - Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Albert Haynesworth being the classic names mentioned. There's even a fifteen second clip or so where I jump on the pile and talk about what a disaster the big names have been. But that's about it. The rest was all sympathy and fluff.
Dan Snyder has clearly had to deal with some tough things in his life. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a few years ago. His wife had cancer. He lost his father to a heart ailment when his dad was only 69 years old. He was close to Sean Taylor before he was brutally murdered. Those are real life issues and real tragedies.
But who hasn't had to endure cancer and death? That's part of being human. Does Dan think he's immune to the pain and suffering that we all go through? Sure, he's had tough times, but does that explain why the franchise has been so bad and lost so much respect amongst the fans and the rest of the NFL?
Dan says very early on in the interview with Nichols that he is very shy around the media because he's taken such a beating over the years. He plays the victim card very nicely. But it's a joke. Please give me all the incidents where Dan Snyder was unfairly criticized?
Was he unfairly criticized when he started suing his own fans last year when they couldn't maintain their season ticket plans in the middle of a recession? Was it a low blow to complain about how he has jacked up ticket prices to levels that have essentially priced out the average fan, while producing only two playoff wins in 10 years?
Maybe nobody should complain about having to pay $25 for the privilege of parking a mile away from the stadium and taking a bus into the game? Or how about the time he tried to ban walking to the stadium, just because he wanted to make as much off of parking as possible? I'm sure fans loved when he tried to make everybody purchase tickets using a Redskins credit card too.
Look, everybody makes mistakes. And Snyder is slowly owning up to some of them, to his credit. But let's paint the whole picture please. This is a guy that's been a ruthless businessman through the years. He's fired long-time employees and public relations people at a rate equivalent to the number of coaches he's gone through.
When you hide in the middle of an entourage and fly in on your chopper or private plane, fans have a hard time relating to you. Ted Leonsis is a very wealthy man too; yet you can go up to Ted at the Verizon center and shake his hand. He'll talk to you about the team. He seems to care about your opinion. He'll even give you his email address. If Dan Snyder is in the room, it's like he's surrounded by the secret service. It's absurd. I've witnessed it firsthand.
These are just some of the issues that have upset the fans over the years - In my opinion, none of them unjustified either. So who's really been the victim here? I'd say it's us the fans.
What really irks me (beyond my gray hair) is that ESPN virtually ignored all of these issues. It's not like they didn't know about them either. I told them about each one of them when they interviewed me for over an hour on Saturday. Instead, they glossed over most of the specifics and just chalked up the discontentment to the mistakes of a young owner and unfair criticism by the local media.
They made the viewer feel like because Snyder had cancer and his Dad died, that makes up for everything. It doesn't.