The beginning of the Dan Snyder era of the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame begins Monday night when the team inducts linebacker London Fletcher and tackle Chris Samuels during the Chicago Bears game at Ghost Town Field.
You could argue it started when the team inducted Sean Taylor following his tragic death in 2007. But those were obviously extraordinary circumstances, and could not really be considered part of the legacy of Snyder’s regime. Taylor was inducted because of the hopes, dreams and then grief of a Redskins organization and its fans. He was a legacy connected to everyone who was part of what was still then a burgundy and gold family, from the streets to the stands to the locker room and owner’s booth.
“London Fletcher and Chris Samuels are two of the greatest Redskins during my tenure as owner of this franchise,” Snyder said proudly, standing before reporters to celebrate his players (actually, he was so proud that he just made these comments in a statement). “Their consistent level of play, leadership in the locker room and dedication to excellence during their time as Redskins were everything you could ask for from a player. I am honored to make two tremendous additions to our storied Ring of Fame.”
Theirs is a much different legacy than many who have come before them. It’s reminiscent of the era of losing in the George Preston Marshall days after arriving from Boston in 1937, when they won two NFL championships and played in two more championship games from 1937 to 1945.
Fletcher and Samuels are the 50th and 51st members elected to the team’s Ring of Fame. If you just consider those players who have been honored – and not others like coaches, owners, general managers, public officials (yes, former Prince George’s County executive Wayne Curry is a member of the Redskins Ring of Honor) and others – they are the seventh and eighth players to be inducted who have zero connection to even a brief moment of championship glory, not even playing in an NFL title game.
There will be more as part of Snyder’s failed ownership.
Fletcher arrived in Washington as a free agent in 2007 after nine seasons with the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills. He has a championship legacy, but it was in St. Louis, with the Super Bowl champion Rams in the 1999 season. He was arguably the most successful free agent signing under Snyder’s ownership. Granted, it’s a small pool of success to choose from. But Fletcher was one of the few bright lights that Redskins fans could feel proud about.
He started in all 112 regular season games he appeared in for Washington, part of a 16-year career where Fletcher played in 256 games with 240 starts. Fletcher made four Pro Bowls in a Redskins uniform. He led the league in tackles with the Redskins, with 956, was number three in solo tackles, with 616, and No. 1 in assisted tackles, with 340. Then again, it was sometimes hard to find people on those Redskins defenses who could tackle.
It is an impressive record of individual work.
Is it Ring of Fame impressive?
This is the dilemma. You can’t just pass over years of futility for this organization without someone representing that time. You have got to find the good within the bad – a 45-67 record while Fletcher was with the team – so the Redskins fans of that era can remember something that was worth their passion and devotion.
Samuels was drafted in that historic 2000 Redskins class that included LaVar Arrington second and Samuels third in the first round. It’s still hard to believe that a franchise with two first-round picks of that caliber failed so miserably as Washington did.
He was a symbol of stability in a broken organization. Samuels started at left tackle for all 141 regular season games in which he appeared. He was named to six Pro Bowls during his 10-year career, four consecutively from 2005 to 2008. He was one of the best left tackles of his era.
Chris Samuels is certainly worthy of this team’s Ring of Fame.
The team’s record over his 10-year career? A proud 70-90.
There will be others who follow to represent Snyder’s failures because of their high quality play – Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and perhaps Chris Cooley among the future candidates. Yet sitting on the sidelines, the forgotten man who played 14 seasons with the Washington Redskins, a total of 193 games, having played in four Super Bowls with three championships on his resume – tight end Donnie Warren – remains not good enough for Ring of Fame inclusion.
He was an integral part of those “Hogs” offensive blocking units that paved the way for the Redskins three Super Bowls. The team’s record while Warren was on the roster? Wins 140, losses 76.
Maybe it would be a good idea to finish up celebrating the winning before it is a spec in the rear view mirror. There will be plenty of time to honor the losing of the Dan Snyder era. That’s not going anywhere.
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