Several weeks ago, I wrote an article titled How Daniel Snyder Can Turn The Washington Redskins Into Contenders, where I basically gave friendly advice on how he could right the ship. Today, I'm pretty happy I decided to go positive back then instead of getting all medieval on the man. People love to skewer the guy more than just about any other sports figure, and I'm not sure I'll be able to resist here.
You see, Snyder is suing a local rag and its parent company for publishing a glossary-like guide to the lows of Snyder for the hopeless Redskins fans out there. Back then, I linked to the Dave McKenna article in question The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder because I found it both informative and amusing. The $2 million lawsuit, if you like dark comedy, is much funnier than the article in question. In fact, the lawsuit itself condemns Snyder much more effectively than City Paper's article by reinforcing all of the items not in dispute, reminding everyone of the items in the complaint, and undermining the few positives written about his success in business. So, what have we learned this week about Mr. Snyder?
Not an owner, a Lord
Remember the line in Dylan's song "Hurricane" where he sings, "Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game"? Snyder, apparently, feels no such shame. He's happy to threaten litigation through his lawyers with references to "cost of litigation" outweighing the value of the paper, and, you just know this was Snyder's idea, demanding a personal call to Snyder from the parent hedge fund, Atalaya Capital, to vaguely work something out. I am left to wonder what Snyder said when they called him. I assume the conversation involved Snyder asking for McKenna to be fired, or perhaps Dan offered Atalaya some Haynesworth-level money to buy the paper so he could ... wait for it ... fire McKenna. Regardless, this lawsuit clearly isn't about money or what was written. It's about control. Control reminiscent of the way the Church of Scientology supposedly reacts to criticism, and they dig aliens, or so I'm told. Lord Vader, your ship is ready.
Snyder must think the devil is Jewish
Apparently, being adorned with horns and a pointy goatee akin to something scribbled on a student council election flier qualifies as anti-Semitic to Team Snyder. On my initial reading of the article, I thought it looked like they were painting him as the devil, and if you mention his name to any Redskins fan you'll see this image pretty much sums it up. We all know these kinds of flimsy accusations are worse than just silly. Just like when people use the phrases "race card" and "N word," insincere discussion itself inevitably makes people less sensitive to real bigotry and hate. I always thought the devil was agnostic anyway.
This ain't a meritocracy
Since Snyder made his original fortune building Snyder Communications, you'd expect he'd be savvy enough to know how this lawsuit would be received. Apparently, he isn't. The only acknowledgment to media savvy is the apparent decision to give any awarded damages to a homeless charity. How sweet. He's not doing this for monetary gain. He's just doing this to be a tool (Oh, wait, the pejorative use of the word tool doesn't have any anti- any race, creed, color or religion history, does it? Good.) So, the marketing guy files a lawsuit that rehashes a months old article and gets an image he claims to feel is bigoted and hateful up front and center, and then the court will decide whether the criticisms in the article are true or not. Brilliant! This short-sighted (I must hate people with glasses) knee-jerk (and people with reflexes) emotional (I'm Spock) move is exactly the pattern of behavior we've seen from the Redskins these past 12 years.
Don't talk about his wife
This might be my favorite part. Most happily married men I know are actually their wives' biggest critics, but typically in gentle way. I understand the protective nature of a husband and the desire to be macho about it. Problem is, lawsuits are the antithesis of machismo, and McKenna merely suggests Snyder had his wife out there as part of his recent and now entirely failed attempt at image management. The criticism is actually of Snyder as a cynical image manipulator having his wife do his bidding. There isn't actually any criticism of his wife.
Team Snyder doesn't stop there, though. They contend McKenna belittled another group -- people impacted by breast cancer. Everyone makes fun of cancer, right? Like guys who game-plan for cancer victims as a market segment? I guess it doesn't make sense to sue McKenna over an article he wrote from watching actual video of Snyder and quoting verbatim. It's somewhat ironic that, in the interview McKenna cites in the passage about her, Mrs. Snyder never mentioned breast cancer , which probably means Team Snyder didn't bother to check the recording. Skills. Maybe that's the problem for the Skins. Maybe they no longer review game film as part of some Snyderian No Video Review corporate culture. Oh, and if you are going to try to evoke sympathy by using your wife and breast cancer in a lawsuit after sending her out to do your bidding for you on TV, aren't you the one belittling her?
There is no hope, NO HOPE for the Redskins
Look up Daniel Snyder, and the most consistent thing you will read is that he's remarkably consistent. With that much power and money, and a willingness to do whatever he wants to get what he wants, how on earth is the man supposed to actually change? He can't. So, as I've written and said numerous times, the Redskins will never win anything of significance while Daniel Snyder remains the owner. That's a sad thing for a once proud franchise. It's even sadder for a man who seemingly has everything he could have ever imagined and more but lacks the one thing he almost certainly desires most -- respect.
There may be an explanation, and an Oprah out
Thanks to all of this control and abuse of power, I was just struck by a bolt of pseudo-psychological lightning. Perhaps we can trace all of Daniel Snyder's behavior to the current hot news topic of bullying. Is it possible Snyder's behavior is an adult manifestation of being bullied growing up? He's not a big guy, and everything I've seen indicates he blossomed immediately after leaving education behind. Why was he so keen on leaving school? Does being bullied explain his drive to conquer the known universe? Does that explain his desire to buy the Redskins and lord (there's that word again) over large, aggressive men as a psychological payback for mistreatment during his formative years. It isn't just the players, though, the man also gets to control the fan experience. Maybe the bullies I'm conjuring were Skins fans. It suddenly all makes sense. If that were true, there is no better time than now for Snyder to go on Oprah, drop the lawsuit from her couch, confess to shame he feels for something he couldn't control, and start the healing process. People would eat that up. You want to talk wins? That's a win for Snyder personally, a win for his public persona, and I bet it'd lead to a whole pile of wins for the Redskins. A real marketing guy would be all over this idea, even if he weren't actually bullied. How's that for cynical and ruthless?
See, it happened again. I always end up trying to help the guy. Hey, Mr. Snyder, consider that last bit as my portfolio entry for the clearly open position of consiliere within your empire. All you have to do is say, "Help me, Dan Cunningham, you're my only hope."