It was fitting that Dan Snyder was reportedly on the high seas sailing his yacht when his football team was hijacked last week.
He is a man without a home — without friends, the kind he needs at a time like this.
Even his NFL yacht club buddies seem to have abandoned him.
Oh, he has an actual place to live, all right — a palace on the Potomac that he is trying to sell for $49 million. It is a gated palace, although I’m not sure if it’s to keep people in or to keep them out.
Dan Snyder‘s gate, though, expands far beyond his multi-million property. He is a walking gated community, shutting out all around him, and is now paying the real price for his arrogant isolation.
Snyder took a one-two punch last week with the assault on his team name — Redskins — followed up by a report by Pro Football Talk that several of Snyder‘s ownership partners, including Fed Ex’s Fred Smith, who paid Snyder $205 million in 1999 to put his company’s name on the stadium, were looking to sell.
I’m guessing Fred isn’t too fond of Ghost Town Field.
When the news broke about Redskins investors looking to abandon ship, speculation unfolded that because those investors had supposedly been unable to sell their shares in the team, this could somehow lead to a path where Snyder is forced to sell the team.
Redskins fans — many of whom had been angry about the news that the team is considering changing the name that has been under attack for decades — quickly changed their mood, dancing like munchkins in the Land of Oz celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. It seemed possible that Snyder could be overthrown or come to some sort of personal conclusion that leads to a sale.
Suddenly the name didn’t seem as important. Many Redskins fans would let you call their team the Dallas Cowboys if it meant Snyder had to walk the plank.
Dan Snyder, though, has had a few houses fall on him from the sky during his tenure at Redskins owner, and managed to crawl out from the wreckage to survive. He will likely survive this as well.
There are no plans among the partners to try to force Snyder to sell, nor does he have any plans to sell an NFL franchise whose value will rise significantly in a few years when the new television deals are done, according to sources.
As far as the league, his fellow owners have little regard for Snyder — but he is an owner, one of them, and owners are very difficult to force out. It took a sexual harassment scandal for Jerry Richardson to be forced out in Carolina.
It is the school of thought that, “There but for the grace of God go I. If they can get Dan Snyder, they can get me.”
Lest we forget, it was progressive NBA owner Mark Cuban who talked of a “slippery slope” when the league was about to oust bigoted fellow owner Donald Sterling – who lasted 33 years at the same table. Sterling makes Snyder look like Mother Teresa.
The name, though, is going somewhere. You don’t issue a statement that the Redskins’ controversial team name will “undergo a thorough review” and then later say, “never mind.”
That is not the ticket to the District for a new stadium, despite politicians seeking shelter behind the name change.
“The name doesn’t change anything,” one District source said. “You still have the owner, who has done nothing to make any contacts or friends in the city. Nobody. He has built no relationships.”
The relationship in the District that took years to build up was between former council member Jack Evans and former Redskins team president Bruce Allen. As we all know, both are out of the picture. That leaves Snyder to his own devices — of which he has none.
A new owner may open some doors again in the city, the source said. But the remaining problem may be an RFK residential neighborhood that has changed since the team left in 1996. It is now filled with lawyers and lobbyists and legislative aides who all know very well how to fight city hall. They have made it clear in neighborhood meetings that they want no part of a new football stadium on the RFK site.
All that said, something strange is happening.
Different investment groups uniting to pressure major corporations like FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo to call for changing the name, quickly followed by reports that Snyder‘s long-time investors who represent 40 percent of ownership – after years swallowing Snyder‘s bile – now all decide they want out? And none of them reportedly can unload their shares in the team – shares in an NFL franchise, which is perhaps the greatest investment in the land?
Minority ownership is often the path to wind up with your own NFL team when one becomes available. Jimmy Haslam was a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers before he purchased the Cleveland Browns. David Tepper was also a Steelers minority investor before he bought the Carolina Panthers. Minority shares in a franchise even as damaged as the Redskins should still be a hot commodity.
Something is going on.
You can hear Thom Loverro Tuesdays and Thursdays on The Kevin Sheehan Podcast and Wednesday afternoons on Chad Dukes Vs. The World on 106.7 The Fan.
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