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Gene Wang
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Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Riggins has earned the right

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A lot has been made about John Riggins's incendiary comments on "Inside the NFL" after the Hall of Famer said Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, was a "bad guy" and his "heart is dark."

The question if Riggins crossed the line is pretty much moot, because he left that checkpoint in his rear view mirror years ago. Remember this is the guy who passed out at the National Press Club dinner after telling a supreme court justice to "loosen up."

As for Riggins' recent comments, Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache didn't take kindly to them and broke his self-imposed media silence with an impromptu news conference at Redskins Park during which he defended his owner.

"In the six years [I've been with the Redskins], I've never seen John Riggins here," Blache said. "Never seen him in the building. So to hear such a vicious criticism of somebody I consider not just my employer, but a good friend, bothered me."

Blache also said the problem was "people outside the building" were misrepresenting Snyder.

"They don't know Dan Snyder, and that's the problem," Blache said.

Exactly, and that gets to the heart of the issue for Redskins fans. No one outside Snyder's inner circle really knows him because he chooses not to talk on the record. He has denied repeated interview requests from The Washington Post, and only recently did Snyder speak publically about the team. Even then, Snyder did not respond to questions from the media about specifics.

The ticket buying public, the fan base that has made Washington the second most profitable NFL franchise in the land, deserves more from Snyder. Where's the accountability during this lost season?

Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner gets it, even though he finds his franchise in a similar circumstance as Snyder's. Lerner's team is struggling on the field. There's internal unrest after George Kokinis was fired as the general manager. Coach Eric Mangini is embattled.

Yet Lerner, who like Snyder goes to great lengths to avoid the media, found time to speak directly with disgruntled fans this week. According to the Canton Repository, Lerner met with Mike Randall and Tony Schaefer, and both said they were impressed with the owner despite the Browns' woes.

While fans in Cleveland may have had the chance for a civilized exchange with their owner, it's almost inconceivable Snyder would elect to meet with members of the Redskins fan base. That's why Riggins said he felt the need to speak out.

"I speak for the fans because these are the people that paid my salary for all these years," Riggins said. "They are the ones that need to know that this is a bad guy."

You can debate all you want about whether Riggins should have attacked Snyder on a personal level. What you can't deny is the fact the Redskins are 2-5 with a coach who has been stripped of play-calling duties and a general manager who did little to address the team's most glaring weakness -- the offensive line -- during the offseason.

"Nobody pains more when we are unsuccessful than Dan Snyder," Blache said. "There is nobody that cares more about the fans than Dan Snyder."

Oh really? Then tell us why, as the team sinks deeper into dysfunction, does the owner find it necessary to sue season ticket holders, ban signs at FedEx Field and continue to charge exorbitant prices for parking and concessions.

Apart from his on-field exploits that include perhaps the greatest run in NFL history, Riggins is revered because he doesn't filter his comments. He speaks with conviction, passion and intelligence, and he knows the subject matter from years of playing in the NFL.

No matter what Blache says to defend his owner, no fan is going to take Sndyer's side over perhaps the most beloved player in Redskins history. Plus, don't you wonder if Blache should have been more concerned about stopping Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Matt Ryan than riffing on why he doesn't agree with Riggins?

Riggins on many levels has earned the right to speak freely and in this case harshly. Not only is he a Washington icon, but he's long been a respected analyst, and it's part of his job description.

Is it fair? Maybe not. But is it fair to Redskins fans who spend their hard-earned money to have to watch such a dreadful product? Perhaps that's the real injustice in all of this.

By Gene Wang  |  November 6, 2009; 12:57 AM ET  | Category:  Gene Wang , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Riggins hasn't earned jack! He may have been an "icon" some time ago, but what has he done for me lately? Nada!

Riggins is a jealous, bitter, drunk whose ego is probably busted because Dan Snyder never reached out to him for anything! Has anyone asked that fool how it's Dan Snyder's fault that the millionaires he pays can't throw or catch a ball? What's Riggins answer to that?

And, in case you couldn't tell, this is one fan (with season tickets since 1996) who is taking Dan Snyder's side over a has-been, bitter, drunk! It's ridiculous that you as the Sports Editor for the Washington Post would defend Riggins' vitriolic, non-reality based attack.

Posted by: drs2008 | November 5, 2009 11:50 PM

RIGGO MAY BE A BITTER DRUNK....BUT HE'S IN CANTON AND MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT. AS FAR AS THAT GOES I'D RATHER BE A HALL OF FAME DRUNK...MAYBE THEY COULD PUT A BOTTLE OF JACK DANIELS NEXT TO HIS BUST WHICH IS ACROSS FROM MEAN JOE GREENE AND TWO DOORS DOWN FROM VINCE LOMBARDI..... BETTER TO BE THE REAL DEAL THEN A WANNA BE GEORGE HALAS...SNYDER CAN'T TOUCH RIGGO....RIGGO GETS A FREE PASS...HE ALSO DOESN'T NEED TO SHOW UP AT THE COMPLEX AT REDSKINS PARK.....THEY CAN GO TO HIS HOUSE AND KNOCK...HAHHAHA

Posted by: ghostrider505 | November 6, 2009 12:00 AM

Well, it Riggo and not Snyder who is in Canton.
It is amazing to see Blanche defend Snyder but has been silent about Zorn.
But then, who pays Blanche?

Posted by: edlharris | November 6, 2009 12:18 AM

I don't understand what everyone is so upset about. Riggins very clearly laid out what Snyder has done that suggests that he is not a good guy AND that he is not actually committed to winning. Here are a few of the examples of Snyder's decisions that show he is more interested in extracting money from the Redskins fans - than in putting a winning team on the field:

1) Extremely high prices for food and parking - monetizing every aspect of the gameday experience
2) Manipulation of the season ticket waitlist
3) Suing season ticket holders
4) Banning all fan signs for specious safety reasons - but then giving out signs from Corporate sponsors
5) Threatening fans with loss of tickets and ejection from the game if they did not remove shirts with critical messages

Actions speak louder than words. Over the last ten years -- Snyder has inserted himself into football operations and proven that he and Vinny knows nothing about football.

Posted by: lyricist1020 | November 6, 2009 12:34 AM

Gene - I've lost many a fantasy football game while following your advice of who to start and who to sit.

Does that make you a "bad guy" with a "dark heart?"

Riggins may have laid out a fair analysis of why the Redskins are 2-5 and have been mired in medicority under Snyder's ownership, but he certainly hasnt made any case for Snyder being a "bad guy". This entire fan base is losing its mind - really. Being mediocre sucks. Losing sucks. But this is a game, and no one on this website - author and readers - have the right to pass such a personal judgment on someone.

Posted by: rob10873 | November 6, 2009 12:57 AM

first post sounds like snyderatto or tom l. hubbard cruise commenting.

Posted by: bhoang888 | November 6, 2009 1:48 AM


BLACHE will get burned by Snyder.

Deals with the Devil always go bad.

And this was their deal: Blache's media briefings, required until Zorn was demoted, were stopped to keep Blache from telling press he would be named Zorn's successor.

But Danny Boy cheaped-out and won't pay out Zorn to leave.

But Blache, in hopeful limbo, broke silence to spray the Kool-Aide. Reaffirm his faith in the Devil.

Quit while you are ahead. Or actually, way behind. Losers.

HAIL RIGGO!!!

And loosen up, Danny Boy. Sell.

Posted by: tcs1999 | November 6, 2009 1:51 AM

Gene, i agree with everything you wrote. 100%. Riggo has earned the right to say whatever he wants in regards to the Redskins. dsr2008's views don't represent the feelings of true redskins fans who will never forget what Riggo has done for this city and it's fans. "what has he done for me lately?", really?? How ridiculous is that statement? Like he expects Riggo to get back out on the field and plow over cornerbacks. You have very short memory my friend, very short.

Posted by: ralston21 | November 6, 2009 7:54 AM

Riggo is right and Blache is wrong. I don't care if Danny is nice to Blache; he is a complete jerk to the lifelong fans of the organization from restrictions on free speech to suing fans to unmentionable prices for a piece-of-garbage-run franchise. Selfish, greedy, and swarthy are better adjectives to describe Snyder then then generous. In the decade he has owned the team, only once have I been proud of him and that was for flying the team to Sean Taylor's funeral. Does anyone still think Lavar was lying about his contract situation?

Posted by: dg_photofl | November 6, 2009 9:27 AM

drs2008 - You've shown yourself to be an intellectual pygmy! You talk so much crap I'm not sure whether to offer you a tic-tac or tissue paper. "Riggins hasn't earned jack"? Uh, hello... he earned his way into Canton which requires no more giving. And you? What have you ever done for the Redskins or the fans? Best I can tell your only claim to fame is a lame attempt at deriding one of the most beloved players in franchise history you feeble minded twit!

"Riggins is jealous"? Of who exactly? A little dictator so short in stature and character that he sues little old ladies over tickets, tramples on freedom of speech rights, milks the fan base for every cent he possibly can like blood from a turnip? And to what end? To drive a once proud organization so deep up his bum that Sideshow Vinnie will have to give him a prostate exam just to see how he can plunge them even deeper into the abyss.

No one has asked how it's Boy Danny's fault that the millionaires he pays can't throw or catch a ball because anyone with a scintilla of sense already knows what you, Boy Danny and Sideshow Vinnie don't. The biggest offseason need was an upgrade on the often offensine line yet they didn't do squat. In order to have success running the ball, throwing the ball or catching the ball, you need a decent offensive line.

The only thing I see that's ridiculous is a waste of skin Dallas Cowgirl fan named drs2008 disguised as a true and loyal Redskins fan. Do us all a favor and climb back to the sewer from whence you conjealed.

Posted by: H2oJW | November 6, 2009 11:15 AM

DRS2008 is either a complete sucker or he's Dan Snyder himself. Would we be surprised?

Posted by: brad40 | November 6, 2009 12:09 PM

ROB - on the job, two knees on the floor slobbing a knob - 10873 -- it's not personal, believe me. It's not passing judgement...

Posted by: tony11 | November 6, 2009 12:17 PM

With all due respect, shut up Jean Wang you freaking Cowboy fan. Who made John Riggins judge and executioner? What color is his heart? Or yours Jean Wang?

Posted by: deshackleford | November 6, 2009 12:56 PM

Is there a bigger moron than Wong? He is on par with Riggins on the moronic scale.
Hey, Wong. NO ONE EARNS THE RIGHT TO BE A MORON. THEY EARN THE RIGHT NOT TO BE A MORON. YOU AND RIGGINS HAVE NOT EARNED THAT RIGHT.

Posted by: hock1 | November 6, 2009 12:58 PM

15TH!

Posted by: delfranklin4 | November 6, 2009 2:04 PM

Riggo is an obnoxious ex-superstar using his ex-team's bad situation to gain attention. As fans, we all have had harsh feelings about the way Danny&Vinnie have handled the team. But making personal attacks is just way out of bounds.

Posted by: vze3c9qt | November 6, 2009 3:09 PM

Amazing. A beloved HOF Redskins tells the truth in no uncertain terms- something the Washington press has been terrified of until now- and he is pilloried.

Way to go Riggo! #44 rolls again.

Posted by: boog44 | November 6, 2009 4:54 PM

you have had tickets since '96....hahaha, big deal! you bragging or complaining?

knee pads for sale on isle 5 for you too!

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | November 6, 2009 5:58 PM

attention all snyder supporters....knee pads on sale isle 5

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | November 6, 2009 6:06 PM

Riggins has won. Snyderato has not.

Posted by: tdsgava | November 7, 2009 7:40 AM

Riggo may be bold, however Snyder has used the skins as a cash cow, and constantly interfers with the coaches.
Maybe we should fire the owner, afterall we elect new Presidents when the country isn't run well

Posted by: dcmdpilot | November 7, 2009 8:30 AM

DRS2008 You and your comments suck!

Posted by: vexed50verizonnet | November 7, 2009 9:13 AM

Hey HOCK1 Riggo has earned the right to speak his mind! Most people agree with him!

Posted by: vexed50verizonnet | November 7, 2009 9:17 AM

You tell 'em Geno! Who knows more about football? Riggo or Snyder? I'm gonna go with Riggo on this one.

Posted by: aviscardo | November 7, 2009 9:25 AM

Gene,

Great piece on Riggins's comments. If anything, you are going too light on Snyder but that is another story. Like you pointed out he IS NOT a "fan-friendly" owner.....just try bringing a sign into the stadium.

As far as Riggins' opinion goes; people, his comments on Snyder's football acumen are DEAD ON! Just poll anyone who has ever played in the NFL. But even I know football is the CONSUMATE team sport, and the kind of chemistry that is necessary to win the Super Bowl is not manufactured by putting a bunch of high-price free agents together. Why in the heck do you think my beloved franchise has been mired in mediocrity for the last 10 years? It is NOT a coincidence.

A proud franchise is becoming a laughingstock in the NFL, and Snyder is to blame, more than anyone else. Thanks Riggo for everything you have ever done for the 'Skins, and thanks for having the rocks to say what is on your mind!

Posted by: MK954 | November 7, 2009 3:27 PM

Rigdouche is just terrified of seeing Portis surpass his Redskin passing yardage mark. Do not kid yourselves Redskins fan, Riggins would rather see that record stand until the end of time, then he would see a Redskin team hoist the lombardi trophy! I eagerly await the day Portis shatters his world and his precious yardage record and forces him deeper into the drunken stooper which he seems so comfortable.

P.S. Riggoooo, you are the LORD of the idiots!!

Posted by: Jace72 | November 7, 2009 9:32 PM

**Correction: Rushing Yardage***

Posted by: Jace72 | November 7, 2009 9:34 PM

check out http://snyderhasruinedtheredskins.blogspot.com

Posted by: perrysaidman | November 8, 2009 11:48 AM

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