Ok, here’s a quick quiz: Name the owner of the New Orleans Saints, the Philadelphia Eagles or the Baltimore Ravens. Difficult? Now name the owner of the Washington Redskins. Easy, right?
Is there any NFL owner in the news more often? Every week there is a new story about Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his free-falling franchise.
Now sure, it’s not easy owning a major professional sports franchise. However, most of the best owners -- like Robert Kraft of the Patriots, John Mara and Steve Tisch of the Giants, or the Rooney family of the Steelers -- are just the guys with deep pockets. When it comes to stepping outside the owner’s box, history has proved that less is more. For instance, Kraft put all his faith into Bill Belichick and the rest is history.
There are other notable examples of owners meddling with their teams and driving them into the ground. Take Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders. Since the Raiders were blown out in Super Bowl XXVII, they've gone a league-worst 24-72. According to SI.com, they have “blazed through five head coaches since 2001… Davis is out of touch, he refuses to adapt, and continues to be infatuated with speedsters (this year the team inexplicably drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with the Number 7 overall pick) instead of building a deep roster that can compete.”
Then there’s Dallas’s Jerry Jones, who’s become too involved and acts like a fantasy football owner. He continuously brings in big names like Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. Too bad for Jones; all the big names were duds. Former Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson says Jerry Jones is “his own worst enemy.” In a conversation with Dallas-Fort Worth sportscaster Dale Hansen of WFAA, Johnson said “After I left, he wanted to have fun, he wanted to be part of it. I understand that, he's the owner, he has a right to do that.”
But Johnson adds that one person should be the coach; without the owner second-guessing his decisions.
So what about the ‘Skins? In addition to multiple coaches over multiple years, consistency is a problem with the players as well. One of the team’s major problems is a lack of core players. Take the New York Yankees. Andy Pettite, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada now have a fifth World Series Championship. All four of those players were drafted by the Yankees, played minor league ball with the Yankees, and now tear it up with the Yankees. The struggling ‘Skins, have no such core group.
The team ownership says, Hey, don’t worry, all is fine here. ’Skins Chief Operating Officer David Donovan blames the media: "I think the relentless negative coverage in The Washington Post is a real difference from previous years," he says. There are some who think Donovan’s right. Sure, the Redskins are 2-6, they say, but the team’s just been unlucky in the first half of the season.
For others, their beloved team is in a tailspin and Snyder is to blame. And Washington fans aren’t shy about showing their displeasure. They boo, don’t show up to the games (leaving unprecedented empty seats at FedEx Field), and even bring anti-Snyder signs to the games. But you’ll never see them: Snyder has banned the all negative signage (I guess he was getting a bit tired of all the “Napoleon in a suit” comments).
Is Snyder really to blame for the struggles of the ‘Skins? You bet. In this decade alone, the Redskins are on their sixth coach who, unless he wins every remaining game, is likely to be fired at the end of the season.
So what can be done? Not a lot. Although fans can scream for an ownership change, an owner is un-fireable. Therefore, Washington fans can only wait and hope that Snyder will finally find a coach to help turn the team around, and then LEAVE HIM ALONE.