Since purchasing the Washington Redskins in 1999, owner Daniel Snyder has been highly disliked for “Ruining a once proud franchise” according to everyone from fans to media outlets.
For the last decade, according to anyone not on Snyder’s payroll, Snyder had “run the Redskins as if they were a fantasy football team.” Or that he “cares more about selling tickets than having a winner.” Not to mention the game day experience at FedEx Field was pretty lousy.
There is no arguing that during Snyder’s tenure he had been involved in a lot of personnel decisions, more than your typical owner should be. Free Agency became Snyder’s ‘time to shine’ and General Manager/Racket Ball Buddy/ Evil Henchmen Vinny Cerrato bounced from city to city in “Redskins 1” wining and dining the next big name prize.
Year after year the results were disastrous as the team only won one single playoff game since 2000.
Fans can tolerate bloated contracts, questionable coaching decisions and a poor game day experiences provided the product on the field is up to snuff, but it wasn’t.
Even the players suffered — often complaining that Redskins Park Facilities were among the worst in the league. While outdated at best, there was no denying the absence of amenities that are common in the NFL, such as a practice bubble for winter training.
Why would an owner who spared no expense trying to build what he thought would be a winner skimp out on taking care of the players and the fans?
Redskins’ legends like John Riggins blamed it on Snyder himself. Riggins even went as far as saying Snyder had a “black heart” and was more consumed by turning a profit than he was building a franchise.
By November 2009 things had gotten out of hand, Joe Gibbs successor Jim Zorn, the coach hand-picked by Snyder, was clearly over his head. The team was in chaos and fans were taking out advertisements calling for Snyder to sell the team and “turning in their fan cards” until things got straightened out.
That December the madness stopped, Vinny Cerrato was forced to resign, Bruce Allen was brought in as the new GM and in early January 2010, Mike Shanahan (a notorious control freak) was brought in as the new head coach. More surprisingly, Shanahan was given full control of the team. Something fans claimed the meddling Snyder would never allow.
With a solid new front office in place Snyder turned his attention to new improvements to FedEx Field and the surrounding areas. Parking lots opened up to eight hours earlier than scheduled for night game in 2010. Seats were removed to add party decks and new state of the art HD ‘punter proof’ screens were installed. Not to mention the smoother traffic control around the stadium.
He even added solar panels to make FedEx Field the most energy-efficient stadium in the NFL (for you Green people).
While stadium improvements don’t make the team better, they most-certainly added to a somewhat better game-day experience helped the once forgotten fan base feel like they were being thought of.
Even the facilities in Ashburn have gotten a face-lift with a completely modern practice bubble installed to keep the players from having to practice in local airport hangers when it rains.
The biggest changes are what we are seeing now.
The Redskins are being run the way a football team is supposed to be thanks to who Snyder put in charge. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are turning Washington back into a respectable football city. The paydays and trading away of draft picks we saw during Cerrato’s era are officially over.
Today’s Redskins are being ran the same way they were during Jack Kent Cooke’s legacy. The front office is scouting properly, the coaches know who fit their system and they are writing up contracts that not only are fair, but also save them in case a player fails (see Donovan McNabb).
Most important, Snyder is no longer “in the way” as he once was, but is doing what he should be – signing the checks and watching his team from the owner’s box like every other owner.
Thanks to this off-seasons Cap Gate scandal, Snyder is actually being viewed as a victim instead of the “dark hearted” franchise ruining super-fan he has been made out to be.
While getting some fan support this off-season has been huge for Snyder, he will never become beloved without giving Washington D.C a consistent winner.
A supporting cast has been built over the last two seasons and it now appears Redskins fans will finally get exactly what they have been waiting for for over 2o years – a franchise quarterback. While there is still a way to go getting Robert Griffin III, who the Redskins are projected to take in the upcoming NFL Draft, that should be a huge step towards accomplishing that goal.
Love him or hate him, it is hard to deny that Snyder is on a hot streak of making solid football decisions, but right now it’s safe to say even anti-Snyder fans are beginning to see a change in him, for the better.
And let’s just be honest who can hate on an owner who Tebows?