The League

Leonard Shapiro

Leonard Shapiro

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

Legacy untouchable


Why would anyone be surprised to hear John Riggins rip into Redskins team owner Daniel Snyder on Showtime's weekly NFL anthology show?

Do we need to be reminded about all manner of previous verbal Riggo drill classics, as in: "I'm bored, I'm broke and I'm back," after ending a season-long holdout in the early 1980s. "Loosen up Sandy, baby," directed at Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at a memorable banquet (he may not remember himself, for all the obvious reasons). "Ronald Reagan may be the president, but I'm the king," not long after scoring the clinching fourth-quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

Riggins has been ripping into Snyder and his Redskins Park minions all season, which is certainly his right as a paid pundit on various local media outlets, as well as his hilarious YouTube contributions. He's paid for his opinions, and anyone who has ever spent any time with Riggins face-to-face or watched him for years sparring with George Michael and Sonny Jurgensen, on Channel 4, knows he's never been shy in expressing them.

Does he have an axe to grind, the operative cliché being used by all his critics? Well, he was working for one of Snyder's radio stations up until last year, but when ESPN 980 also was purchased by Snyder, there was no room in the lineup for a guy who surely would have rattled a lot more coffee cups than a few of the sports talk hosts now employed (are you listening John Thompson, a frequent guest in Snyder's owners box on game days). So you decide about that ax.

Did he go too far in describing Snyder as being a "bad guy" or having a "dark heart?" Riggins knows the man far better than I do, and if that's what he believes, more power to him for telling it the way he sees it. Amazing that other former Redskins, particularly Brian Mitchell and LaVar Arrington, also have been taking heavy on-air shots at Snyder as well.

As for Riggins' legacy being tarnished by his comments. Please spare me. He's in the Hall of Fame. He rivals Sonny Jurgensen as arguably the most popular Redskin of all time, both when he played and now that he's retired. They're not going to throw him out of Canton. His records are still on the books. That touchdown against Miami will always rank as one of the all-time greatest plays in team history, if not the very best of the best.

He's John Riggins. The Diesel. Big John. Riggo. That will never change. Never.

By Leonard Shapiro  |  November 6, 2009; 12:32 AM ET  | Category:  Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Will Riggins' stock go up or down? | Next: Who cares what Riggo thinks?


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I agree with Leonard. John Riggins has an equal supply of rights to offer his opinion as John Doe...and the very same right, among open minded individuals, to accept or reject his opinion seperate from his humanity.

I admit to having the very common "Man Crush" on John Riggins.

Posted by: fm7319 | November 6, 2009 7:23 AM

spot on Mr. Shapiro!

Posted by: ralston21 | November 6, 2009 7:59 AM

Ditto Ralston21

Posted by: BlueIguana | November 6, 2009 8:01 AM

I agree with Leonard that Riggo, as well as any Redskins fan, can criticize the team and the owner as they see fit. However I will not go as far as Riggo in calling Snyder a bad person. Sure Snyder is a bad owner, but that do not make him a bad man. Snyder is egotistical and must be in control even if he does not have a clue about running a football franchise. Because of his ego, he has allowed brown-nosers like Vinny Cerato and Al Michaels to manipulate him by telling him what they think he want to hear. The Redskins fall from grace proves that Cerato don’t know what he is doing. Michaels like to call critics of the team “haters” showing his bias as a radio and TV personality. As a result, the franchise has become a laughing stock. The only way the Redskins will be respectable again is for Snyder to admit his ignorance, fire both Cerato and Michaels, and hire competent people to run the team. Once the team starts winning Snyder will then begin to regain some of the respect he so desperately need.

Posted by: Gbefalor | November 6, 2009 9:57 AM

I do not understand this hesitation in calling Dan Snyder a bad person. We judge others based on our relationship with them. GBEFALOR, if you know Dan personally then I completely defer to you. If, on the other hand, you only know him as a fan as I do, then there is no other conclusion to reach than that he IS a bad guy with a dark heart. Signs, lawsuits, prices,retarded football decisions, inaccessibility, lack of leadership, arrogance. It simply it what it is. If anything, I wish Riggo had not held back. :-)

Dan Snyder, simply put, is the most despised figure in the history of professional sports. He makes Art Rooney look like a lovable figure.

Posted by: MrNonCents | November 6, 2009 11:45 AM

Yes. Once a moronic arse always a moronic arse. Spot on.

Posted by: hock1 | November 6, 2009 1:05 PM

I want to hear what Riggins and Shapiro have to say. Both tell it straight. What losers these other guys are. Do they draw straws, and the losers have to try to think up some way to write opinions for Danny? Ain't workin!

Posted by: kls1 | November 6, 2009 9:34 PM

Riggo has a Super Bowl ring. When Danny gets one, we'll talk. Until then, John is a winner and Danny is a loser ... a whiny, arrogant, rich-brat loser with a dark heart. He can fly as many people to the hospital as his publicist suggests, but it won't change his real character.

Posted by: CryoGen | November 7, 2009 6:35 AM

Horray for Mr. Shapiro! You are right on! Dan needs to swallow his pride and hire a GM! Who thinks that he will do that? I do not.If he does not then he deserves everything that is said about him! When you treat people like they are beneeth you then KARMA will bite you in the A$$!

Posted by: vexed50verizonnet | November 7, 2009 9:05 AM

Hooray for Riggo! Remember the photo of the mohawk cut when he was with the Jets! this was ahead of the times when no one else was sporting the cut! Sandy Baby was and is classic! If you can take his super ring away from him, then you may have the right to take his red skin related comments away from him! I would like to see snyd and the rat meet the rig at mid-field, with the ball spotted on the ground, and if snyd and the rat can stop the rig from bringing ball to the end zone then they'll have my confidence and vote that they are trully red skin material. If not, find something else to do! Riggo! the shee fish is waiting for you in NWAK.

Posted by: redskynyrd | November 7, 2009 5:49 PM

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