The Sports Daily > Redskins Hog Heaven
Looking back at cranky fans and Daniel Snyder


October 15, 2012 ESPN The Magazine coverSome writers have a way with words. Take Seth Wickersham, for example. Wickersham came up with an "I wish I wrote that" opening to an ESPN The Magazine story on Daniel Snyder:

"CONSIDER TWO REDSKINS fans. They are locals — one from Rockville, Md., the other from Falls Church, Va. — not only of the same generation but of the same generation of Redskins fans, introduced to the team in the losing 1960s, faithful throughout the uneven '70s and rewarded with Super Bowls in the '80s. For them, the Redskins are not just a way of life but a way through life — a way to learn about love, holding the old man's hand at RFK or downing bowls of Mom's homemade Redskins chili; about death, when Vince Lombardi passed away; about geographical hatred, when George Allen waged war on the city of Dallas; about pain, when Joe Theismann fractured his leg; and about community, from the unified joy of three championships."

Wickersham could have written that about a legion of hereditary Redskins fans, including me. He wrote about two special fans, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Dave McKenna, his newspaper nemesis and author of the famously hilarious The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Daniel Snyder. The ESPN story recounts the feud between Snyder and McKenna that led to the hilariously infamous lawsuit against The Washington City Paper for publishing the story.

The Cranky Fan Guide was a compilation of Mr. Snyder's blunders running the Redskins and Snyder Communications, the business that made him rich. Snyder's silly lawsuit, supposedly prompted by PR executive Tony Wyllie, exposed two things about him.

1.       He knows nothing about the short attention span of the Internet.

2.       NFL owners like to intimidate people.

A story like The Cranky Fan Guide has a three-day life on the Internet. It was dead and forgotten … until Snyder's lawsuit brought it back to life and gave it a national audience.

The suit struck even legal laymen as frivolous, subjecting Snyder the very derision it was supposed to suppress. The tactic came off as high handed, not unlike the lockout NFL owners imposed on players and game officials.

Their common love for the Redskins might have drawn Snyder and McKenna together instead of driving them apart. Wickersham's story, A thin line between love and hate, is a good read for Redskins wonks. You should go read it. We'll be here when you get back.

The Redskins need a better owner whose name is Daniel Snyder

I studied the careers of successful NFL GM's a few years ago and found some things were common:

·         They had a 15-year general manager career path; there were no short-cuts

·         A few, like Ozzie Newsome, were players. It was rare that a coach made a good GM. The coaching career path does not prepare one to be a GM.

·         GMs rose through scouting or player contracts as capologists. In pro football, owners have to be more loyal to the salary cap than they are to players.

Snyder tried to short cut that career progression at every step until the fan revolt of 2010 pushed him to the background. He hired Mike Shanahan to run the team. Shanahan would only come if Snyder hired the GM the owner once said he did not need.

Snyder's retreat to the background is better than Snyderrato, but that's not what the Redskins need. It takes a championship owner to run a championship team. A champion owner knows that his real team is his front office executives more than the players are. Championship owners know that being smart with the salary cap is different from being clever with the cap. The new Dan Snyder shows signs of getting it.

The old Snyder and Vinny Cerrato were clever at over-paying starters and using accounting gimmicks to push the cost into the future … when the player was off the team. They congratulated themselves for cleverness while ignoring how they hamstrung the team's future.

Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen fell into the same trap at first, raising suspicions of how hands-off the owner really was. Now they are getting it right. They stocked the team with a cohort of young talent that will lead the Redskins to contention for the next several years. They have cap room, amazing after the NFL Management Council whacked the team for $36 million.

These are the seeds of NFL success. It is good that Mr. Snyder has stepped away from meddling with management, but winning takes more. Owners must know when and how to challenge their executives. Mr. Snyder is due to grasp that role in two years. The Redskins are due for a Super Bowl run about that time.

The Redskins need Snyder to become a championship owner. I am pulling for him to become one.  

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for making No. 1 seed in the NLS.

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