The League

Leonard Shapiro

Leonard Shapiro

Washington Post sports reporter, editor and columnist who has served on the NFL HOF Selection Committee.

Snyder's Reign of Error


For many years, it was not at all difficult to single out the worst owner in the National Football League. Never mind that he was Georgetown Prep and then Georgetown University educated, William Bidwill of the St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals was always No. 1 on the list, ranging from his penurious ways, to his teams perpetual last place finishes to his Mr. Magoo persona.

An appearance in the franchise's first Super Bowl a year ago at least pushed Mr. B a few notches down the list, and even before The Post's stunning exposes in recent days over the team's outrageous ticket practices and litigious ways, Daniel Snyder was rocketing up the charts. Now, he's the clear leader as the worst occupant of this chummy clubhouse that is NFL ownership.

Sadly, he has some company in an era when a growing list of NFL owners seem to have forgotten what got their game to the top of the heap in popularity among any sport, team or otherwise, in America. Plainly put, some of them have simply started to take their fans for granted, and proof positive may well be Roger Goodell's estimation this week that 20 percent of the league's games could be blacked out in a team's home television market because they will not be sold out 72 hours before kickoff.

That's a staggering number of blacked out games, more than any I can ever recall, and perhaps it will serve as a slap in the face for owners who have been gouging their patrons more than ever over the last ten years, ranging from the N.Y. Giants charging $20,000 for personal seat licenses for the right to then buy season tickets, to more petty graft, like $8 hotdogs and $12 beers at so many stadiums around the country.

No one should be more outraged at their treatment than Redskins fans at the hands of Snyder, who has presided over a franchise that hasn't come close to sniffing a Super Bowl since he arrived in 1999 to begin his current reign of error. Five head coaches in ten years, a general manager who'd have a hard time keeping a head scouting job with some franchises, big bucks for aging superstars who take the money and run are just a few of his countless transgressions.

But the latest revelations about the team essentially shafting all those folks on the season ticket waiting list by bundling some of those seats to scalping ticket brokers and the club's decision to file law suits against patrons rocked by the recession seems to have provided a major tipping point in fan outrage toward an owner who's team is now valued at $1,45 billion, twice what he paid for it back in 1999.

Snyder has taken advantage of his fan base for years with outrageous prices, blaring boobs on the public address system, surly parking attendants and in-stadium ushers and clearly one of the worst fan "experiences" in the league for anyone who braves the maddening traffic to get there. And so, there you have it, finally a first for the franchise. Congratulations Daniel Snyder, now the worst owner in the NFL.

By Leonard Shapiro  |  September 4, 2009; 3:50 PM ET  | Category:  NFL , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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If Dan Snyder would stop trying to be Jerry Jones and emulate someone with class, not crass (like Art Rooney), this franchise would be much better off. Pair Danny Boy with his baseball twin up the road in Baltimore (Peter Piper Angelos) and you have the worst ownership tandem in the country. How sad these once storied franchises have fallen.

Posted by: lance_dc7777 | September 4, 2009 4:11 PM

If you recall George Bush,he managed to blame Cheney for everything--heat waves, droughts,beatings, House and Senate losses,and dirt on the White House carpets.
The overpaid agents, coaches and players want Snyder to be there for them. The poor journalists are victims of calculated leaks.
Snyder makes several owners look like geniuses. Lions,Bengals,Raiders,Bucs,Bills,Jets,Cowboys,Chiefs,Texans cannot pretend to put their records up against Snyder.

Posted by: TarheelChief | September 4, 2009 6:42 PM

Jeez, Len, not to be an apologist for Dan Snyder, but you must think Al Davis is Mary Poppins.

Posted by: dentuttle | September 5, 2009 12:10 AM

I'm shocked that we made it 2 whole posts before getting a George Bush remark. I doubt we make it to 10 without someone bringing Hitler into all of this.


Posted by: BurgundyNGold | September 5, 2009 2:22 AM

Dan Snyder needs to focus on something other than profitability and cash flow, for a change.

He has proven adept at squeezing every penny out of the fans, in spite of less than spectacular results on the field.

Maybe he should give something to the fans, for a change.

Posted by: postfan1 | September 5, 2009 2:24 AM

BURGUNDYNGOLD wrote: I'm shocked that we made it 2 whole posts before getting a George Bush remark. I doubt we make it to 10 without someone bringing Hitler into all of this.



Hitler is dead. Did I make it before 10 posts? :)

Posted by: swatkins1 | September 5, 2009 6:01 AM

Snyder should stop trying to be a Jerry Jones wannabe. Mr Snyder's trackrecord shows he's only an average GM & scout, he should stop playing & hanging out with the team & let a real GM run the show. Skins' fans deserve better than an amateur GM.

Posted by: Max231 | September 5, 2009 6:31 AM

Skins' fans deserve better than an amateur GM.

Posted by: Max231 | September 5, 2009 6:31 AM


Phooey. They deserve what they pay for.

As long as they are addicted to buying the tickets and the merchandise that this gawd-awful owner peddles to them, they are getting exactly what they deserve.

Addicts whining about their Pusher-Man.

Posted by: phoenixresearch | September 5, 2009 7:19 AM

Snyder should sell the team and move on.

Posted by: JohnRice | September 5, 2009 8:58 AM

I've said this over and over and over; as long as Dan Snyder is making millions off the Redskin's fans, which he does, Snyder will do whatever he wants no matter how outrageous.

Don't the Redskin fans understand they are being taken for chumps?

Posted by: beenthere3 | September 5, 2009 9:08 AM

JohnRice, to whom should he sell the team? Anyone who has enough money to buy and sustain the team will have the same horrible attitude, that it's all about $$$.

Posted by: mssnatchquatch | September 5, 2009 9:41 AM

To me, the lawsuits are a minor issue. That's contract law, and while it is really, really crappy on a customer relations level, the team is within its rights.

However, providing so many good seats to scalpers in exchange for their purchase of some Club Seats when there are SO MANY fans who are either on a waiting list to get lower deck seats or on a waiting list to get inside the stadium is unethical, immoral, possibly illegal, and in any case completely destroys the covenant between team and fan.

Posted by: kemp13 | September 5, 2009 9:54 AM


JohnRice, to whom should he sell the team? Anyone who has enough money to buy and sustain the team will have the same horrible attitude, that it's all about $$$.
I don't entirely agree. Most people with a billion dollars are self centered jerks in some way, but some know where their billion dollars came from and are really in-tune with the fans (customers) who made them what they are.

Dan Snyder is a 10 year old with a billion dollars in an expensive suit who treats his team like he's playing fantasy football. Of course, as long as the fans (short for fanatic) keep coming, he and his billion dollars are laughing all the way to the bank.

Posted by: kevnet | September 5, 2009 10:34 AM

So it's come to this has it? A Fan Revolt and a feeble attempt to apologize. And now Mr. Snyder can finally call himself a winner or sorts, although I doubt he wants to hold this trophy high. If Mr. Cooke had suspected that his son couldn't get the job done of buying the team, I suspect that against his own mindset, he would have simply given it too him.

Alas that's not the case, and we have an owner that says he been a fan all of his life. Unfortunately when he saw the opportunity to buy that team he started to dream. Every man wants to see his dream come true and in that instant it all took a turn for the worse.

With zeal comes the tendency to do first, and ask questions later. He knew what he wanted, he could afford it and he got it. Some good some bad, all made for an exciting build up. Even those days seem to have come to a slow down, for this is the first year I feel like he might finally be getting his head into the game!

So while I applaud the Post for it's expose, this distraction and public flogging should surely warrant an internal review of the Game Day Experience.

Let's go Mr. Snyder, now is not the time to PUNT!

Posted by: soupbonne | September 5, 2009 12:35 PM

I'm a controls systems engineer and know how feedback can both improve and hinder the operation of a system. It seems that the NFL, because of its greed, has found a perfect way to self destruct. (1) If not enough seats are sold block the local telecast of the game, (2) no game on TV means fewer fans watch and more fans lose interest, (3) fewer fans means less attendance, (4) GO TO (1). Sort of like the shampoo bottle that says: Wash, Rinse, Repeat. In my opinion, good riddance.

Posted by: mzf123 | September 5, 2009 12:39 PM

I haven't been to Fedex since arriving in Washington 5 years ago and have no plans to do so. If you want to go for a great game day experience, drop by Arrowhead. First off, a large parking lot and dedicated stadiums for both pro teams. The best way to get there is to catch a bus from various locations. $10 and you pull up right in front.

The food's good and emphasizes the best of KC - Barbeque! There's a good local beer on tap (Boulevard) and it's not outrageously priced. Not cheap, but you're getting something for your money. Even through a few lean years, the fan base is there to support the team.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 5, 2009 12:57 PM

Leonard --

Thank you.

Posted by: kls1 | September 5, 2009 1:53 PM

I've been a fan of the Redskins since a a certain redheaded quarterback with the best arm in the league and a big ( on his chest came to play. I've seen the Redskins at their best, and not so best. I've never seen an owner as bad as Dan Snuder. He, despite what he says, cares nothing about the fans or the team. He wants a cash cow. The Redskins are that, yes, but just think of how much more of a cash cow they would be with an owner who truly cares about the team, the fans, and building a team that will win for years to come, not just right now. So far, Dan Snyders best plans for the team have garnered nothing but derision from other teams around the league. He has spent ludicrous amounts of money on big name has beens with nothing left in the tank. He and his side kick Vinny Cerrato have the talent drafting skills of a blind hamster. We fans will be continually screwed by these two until Dan Snyder either dies, or gives up and moves on. We already know his business skills. Look at Six Flags. Bankrupt. Are the Redskins and their fans next?

I love the Redskins, I bleed Burgundy and Gold. I hate Dan "I couldn't care less about the fans" Snyder and Vinny "I couldn't pick a winner even after the results of the games were announced" Cerrato.

Can someone out there rescue us from these two? Joe Gibbs, please come back and kick them out! Let's get some real knowledge back in the front offices!

Posted by: JohnCee1953 | September 5, 2009 3:19 PM

Snyder has destroyed a great football organization. Being a life long redskins fan I am sickened by him. The team will never advance as they have in years past as long as he is around. Mr. Cooke may have been a little "out there" but he was a good person and a GREAT owner.

Posted by: ncollie1 | September 5, 2009 3:38 PM

One of my fondest football memories is from a Steelers-Redskins game back in 2000. The late, great Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope had a habit of making up nicknames for the opposing team, and that day he was calling Washington the "Redfaces". Dan Snyder apparently took offense to this and sent a flunky to the booth to tell Myron to cut it out. Myron, who started broadcasting when Snyder was still in diapers, wasn't about to be put off and said on the air that "If that boy billionaire thinks he can shut me up, he should stick his head in a can of paint."

Posted by: presto668 | September 5, 2009 4:06 PM

Every Redskin fan knows in their heart that as long as Snyder is the owner of the Redskins, that we will NEVER have the type of team we can really support or feel proud of. I am sure that no matter what the
Squire thought of when not passing the Skins to his son, the current situation would horrify him.
Can't we recall him? How about a hostile fan takeover?

Posted by: bmiddleton1 | September 5, 2009 6:37 PM

KEVNET wrote:
"Most people with a billion dollars are self centered jerks in some way, but some know where their billion dollars came from and are really in-tune with the fans (customers) who made them what they are."

Very, very few billionairs remember where they got their money and the riff raff who made them what they are. The ones who do put their money into foundations to help the poor and into scholarship funds. The rest of them - the scumbuckets - put their money into Wall Street derivatives and into sports teams.

It's very ironic that the other NFL owners got their feathers so ruffled when Howard Milstein wanted to buy the team, fearing he'd be too much of a lawsuit troublemaker. I guess he's rolling on the floor laughing like an insane person at all of this. And John Cooke just didn't have the money. Never mind the fact that crazy ol' Jack could've put it in his will to pass the team onto John. Just goes to prove that while blood is thicker than water, money is thicker than blood. Always has been, always will be.

Posted by: scooter964 | September 5, 2009 7:15 PM

Before the Redskins, Dan made his first millions taking his company Snyder Communications public. He screwed the one man that made it possible for him to do this. He let him go and brought on an industry name with a huge sign on bonus. Dan went public and this big name walked away with millions and did nothing for Snyder Communications. Dan has been operating this way for years. He likes hiring names that get him nowhere. Six Flags is another example. It is in chapter 11. Mark Shapiro got a huge sign on bonus and he did nothing for Six Flags. The man that made Snyder Communications a viable IPO got nothing. He was hard working and honest. Mort Zuckerman should find out the name of that man and apologize for giving Dan the seed money to start Snyder Communications in the first place. The Skins will never make it to Superbowl. I will never let it happen until Dan makes things right.

Posted by: franferrara87 | September 5, 2009 9:20 PM

I am among many that will no longer root for the Redskins. As a life long Washingtonian: Go Steelers!

Posted by: terbielecki | September 5, 2009 10:00 PM

My Redskins fanhood dates back to 1972 (I was 6). Unless Snyder makes amends quick, I'll be burning my Redskin gear @ noon on Sunday. Wish I could do it on the mall grounds, but I live in Utah now. Look West for the smoke signals.

Posted by: seanmartini | September 8, 2009 5:09 PM

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