“If you want to tell grown-up fairy tales, you have to look for the dark side.”
— Juan Antonio Bayona
The Wall Street Journal published a grown-up fairy tale Tuesday. They certainly looked for the dark side. What they found was Dan Snyder.
The Journal’s interview with the Washington Football Team owner opened with an explanation of sorts —his “Happy Thanksgiving” comment in December 2019 at the press conference announcing the hiring of coach Ron Rivera.
“I didn’t read the part where it said, ‘We started this journey on Thanksgiving,’” Snyder told Journal reporter Andrew Beaton — “we started this journey” being so difficult to remember and all.
Then, in a piece of work that should embarrass anyone associated with this media operation, we read about the burden of the billionaire owner “attempting to reform a culture,” as if he was some sort of innocent bystander while decades of dysfunction, destruction and deceit has wrecked this one-time premier NFL franchise.
“Before all of that could change, Dan Snyder acknowledges that he had to change himself and become more deeply involved than in the past, when he was often distant from the management of his franchise.”
Someone who doesn’t work for the Washington Football Team actually wrote that. Someone who works for a major newspaper.
“We regret not being eyes-open enough,” Snyder said.
Got to give the Journal reporter credit for not leaving the room in a laughing fit after that one.
The notion that Dan Snyder needs to be more involved in this franchise is the farthest thing from reality that any fairy tale could conjure up.
To have to go through the litany of sins he has committed with his constant meddling must have been too much of a burden for the Wall Street reporter to point out in the story — the destruction of Robert Griffin III, the drafting of Dwayne Haskins, the coaching hires, firings and battles.
It’s exhausting. Who has the time to go into all that? The Wall Street Journal didn’t.
If somehow there is a defense that Snyder was only referring to the business side of the franchise — well, see Brian Lafemina and the crew of professionals he brought in to turn around the franchise’s demise in 2018, only to fire them eight months later.
Was all that a surprise to Snyder?
Eyes-open enough? To see what? This owner has a big blind spot — himself.
It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s Bruce Allen’s fault. It’s Mike Shanahan’s fault. It’s the minority owners’ fault — check out this reference at the end of this fairy tale: “In addition, Snyder took one step that makes it clear that, going forward, there is no one else to blame if things go wrong. He settled his protracted dispute with his limited partners by buying them out.”
I had no idea Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman were so much to blame for all the franchise woes. No more, I guess.
His wake-up call? October 2019, according to the Journal story.
“It was in October of 2019, months before the team was drowning in controversy, when Snyder says the first wake-up call came. Over and over, he heard a clip from a press conference held by then-team president Bruce Allen in which Allen was asked what he thought of the team’s culture. Allen described it as ‘damn good.’
“The team was 0-5 and had just fired its head coach. Snyder loved the question because he disagreed with the answer. “At that very moment, it triggered us to say: ‘We’ve got to fix our culture.’ Snyder says.”
That is one hell of a coma Snyder emerged from.
I suspect this may be laying the groundwork for the fallout from the NFL’s Beth Wilkinson sexual harassment investigation into the franchise during the Snyder coma years. The results of that could lead to Snyder being suspended for a period of time as Washington Football owner. His wife now will be in place to continue their virtuous fight for culture change.
You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.
• Thom Loverro can be reached at email@example.com.
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