Bob Franken

Dan Snyder, The Redskins and Our Other Symbols of Failure

Chances are you’ve been following the Washington Redskins epic lately. You don’t have to be a football fan to be fascinated by the story of a team owner who has managed in 10 short years to squander generations of goodwill from an area that came together on little besides the adoration of the Redskins. That has been frittered away thanks to one lousy decade of astoundingly inept management under owner Dan Snyder.

What’s so amazing is the intensity of anger directed at Snyder. When those watching from their grossly overpriced seats aren’t booing the team, which is remarkable in in itself, they are turning to the owner’s box and chanting “Sell the Team. Sell the Team!!”, or “Fire Snyder!!” (Full disclosure: I am one of those who has paid to be in the stands)

Why are so many so wrought up about this that the team suddenly decided to ban all signs carried by spectators into the stadium, presumably out of fear poor Dan would be embarrassed by what the television cameras showed. Perhaps the answer is that he is a symbol for all the management fat cats who have also run our entire economy into the ground and actually added to their wealth in the process, while most of us have seen the bottom fall out. He is not only in the NFL, but in a league with mortgage bankers, health insurers and all the other Snidely Whiplashes of modern America.

“Poor Dan” is actually RICH Dan, who has fattened his fortune since 1999 by gouging the fans in every way he can. At the same time he has used his ownership to run the operation in the most inept way he could. He has never let his near ignorance of the game interfere with his constant meddling. What we’ve witnessed then is strikingly similar to the hubris of those who ignored the warnings over time that their shoddy conduct was eroding the base of the businesses they had been entrusted to run. They saw them only as an immediate profit and personal cash cow with no regard for those who put their faith in them.

The inevitable happened. The economy tanked and millions have been forced into hopelessness. What added to the contempt against Snyder was the disclosure that when suddenly desperate season ticket holders couldn’t pay the exorbitant prices for season tickets they could afford before their finances collapsed, Snyder sued them in court. Think foreclosures.

So consider Dan Snyder and his Redskins a metaphor—a metaphor for heartlessness and incompetence that has brought things to ruin with little hope that next season will be much better since the same people will still be running things. No wonder so many are angry. A few have played the game terribly, but it’s everyone else who has lost.

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