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Daniel Snyder: Gate Keeper of Hog Hell

By: Tarrian Rodgers

The Washington Redskins possess one of the most infamous, loyal, and fun-loving fan bases in sports:  The “Hoggettes.” For well over three decades, the Hoggetts have been unashamed to flaunt themselves in long dresses, floppy hats and pig noses to cheer on their beloved Redskins. 

In the 80’s and 90’s, after Redskins’ wins in Jack Kent Cook Stadium, opposing teams would be subject to the Hoggetts’ chorus of “Hail to the Redskins. Hail to victory!”  Those were great times for the Redskins and their fans. For the past 20 years the only tune they’ve been singing is the loud, harmonic booing of team owner and misanthrope, Daniel Snyder.

Snyder’s reputation as one of the worst owners in pro sports has been echoed throughout the NFL and on many different platforms. In 2015, Sports Illustrated voted him the worst owner in football.  Snyder’s twenty plus years as the gatekeeper of the Redskins’ demise has been rife with controversy, from suing season ticket holders and reporters to offending a whole race of indigenous people. Let’s not forget an unflattering 139-180-1 record which includes no playoff wins since 2006, eight different head coaches, a never-ending quarterback carousel, overpaying players in free agency, and sagging attendance.

The Beginning

After the death of Redskins’ long time owner Jack Kent Cooke, Snyder and his group bought the Redskins for, at the time, a record breaking eight hundred million dollar deal. Snyder notably had became the youngest CEO on the New York Stock Exchange at the age of 32, so it was completely understandable he would become one of the youngest owners in sports, purchasing the Redskins in 1999 at the age of 35.

Early in Snyder’s ownership of the Redskins, he had vast financial caproom, and was going to spend money (pleasing Skins’ fans).  In Snyder's first free agent class were names like Mark Carrier (5 years, $15.9 million), Bruce Smith (5 years, $25 million), Deion Sanders (7 years, $56 million).  Led by QB Jeff George (four years, $18 million), the Skins lost their first two games by a combined score of 67-3 before George was benched by coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Schottenheimer was one of the most respected minds in all of football.  Not surprisingly, he had an instant style clash with Snyder. Schottenheimer demanded more decision-making power. Snyder responded, in character, by firing him just one year later, despite the Redskins’ rebounding after an 0-5 start and finishing with an 8-8 record, close to playoff contention. 

Snyder’s strategy for answering critics was throwing good money after bad.  Every offseason for the next five years he would overspend on over-the-hill players. The worst example was giving free-agent Albert Haynesworth $100 million for 7 years only to see Haynesworth turn around and not fulfill his contract.  Albert refused to participate in off-season workouts, and arrived at camp in poor physical condition, unable to pass a basic fitness test. Haynesworth also refused to play a certain scheme on defense which caused him to “flourish” on the inactive list.

Daniel Snyder vs Everybody

If Snyder’s philosophy for building a franchise isn’t enough to call him our worst owner, his relationships with people really sets him apart.   At the peak of one of the toughest financial times in recent history, when unemployment rates were rising and millions of Americans were forced to make major lifestyle sacrifices, Daniel Snyder sued numerous season-ticket holders who were unable to fulfill their commitments, usually in the form of 10, 12 and 15-year deals.

I never claimed to be a lawyer so I understand that once you sign a contract one must honor that contract. it's neither Snyder nor the Redskins' fault that the financial crisis hit when it did. However, Snyder was suing loyal Redskins fans who had been fans since the 1960’s for somewhere around $65,000 a piece. And to make matters worse, it was speculated that the Redskins waiting list for season tickets at that time exceeded 200,000 fans. 

One might think Snyder would consider allowing Skins’ season ticket holders out of their contract, replacing them with an alternative fan from the waiting list.  Not Snyder. The same Snyder who charged fans to get into training camp.  The same Snyder, that after 9/11, with a nation mourning, lept before he looked and added a "security charge" to ticket prices.  The same Snyder that allowed stadium vendors to sell peanuts that were peddled after expiration dates. 

In 2009 Snyder banned all signs in FedEx Stadium that said anything negative about him.  That’s right folks: Snyder hates our first amendment rights. In 2010, Snyder went after Washington City Paper columnist Dave McKenna when Mc Kenna published a story capturing Snyder’s awfulness.  Snyder believed that free speech really shouldn't be free at all, and sued the managing partner of Washington City Paper and asked for the termination of McKenna. 

“We’ll Never Change the Name.”

The name of, and mascot for the “Redskins” has long been met with controversy as Native Americans have stated their displeasure with the team’s name.  The term has many negative racial connotations for Native American people. Snyder continues to insist Washington’s nickname “honors” these indigenou citizens, when Native American groups tell him it doesn’t.

When asked if he would ever change the name, Snyder with adamant tone says “No!  Put that in bold letters, WE WILL NEVER CHANGE OUR NAME.”  If that wasn’t enough, Snyder tried to bribe one tribe to stand with him, buying them cars and houses to not protest his organization.

Overall, Snyder’s terrible reputation is warranted, if not underestimated.  Unfortunately, for Redskins fans there is no end in sight. Fans have long clamored for Snyder to sell the team, yet he currently embarks on his 20th year in charge. In a league full of bad owners I do believe Snyder takes the cake as the worst.

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