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Monday, October 3, 2022

OPINION:

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder flew to Dallas Sunday morning on one of his private jets with a mission in mind.

It wasn’t to watch his Commanders beat the Cowboys. Not even Skipper Dan the Sailing Man likely thought that was going to happen — and it didn’t, as the Commanders helplessly went down in defeat 25-10 for their third straight loss early in this NFL season.


No, it was with one purpose in mind — to get a photo on the field at AT&T Stadium with powerful Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Mission accomplished.

There was Skipper Dan, dressed in his finest sailing gear — blue blazer, khaki slacks, wearing what may have been sailing shoes — standing next to Jones, with Commanders executive Jason Wright and Snyder’s wife and co-owner Tanya in the photo, all of them posing for the shot.

It wasn’t a coincidence that this was the first time this season Skipper Dan had been seen down on the field. This wasn’t for the skipper’s scrapbook. This was a message for his fellow league owners — you know, the ones who have anonymously been talking to the Washington Post about losing their patience with the embarrassment and turmoil Skipper Dan has brought them and their willingness to consider the possibility of ousting Skipper Dan.

The message? Jerry Jones has Skipper Dan’s back. And if Jones has Skipper Dan’s back, he’s not going anywhere.

That photo told those brave owners who are trying to grow spines that Skipper Dan ain’t selling, and if you try to force him out … well, you’ll have to go through Jones.

The two men have had much in common over the years and have been linked for a long time. They were seen as business mavericks, newcomers to a chummy old-boys’ club who were going shake things up.

As we know by now, one turned out to be a contender. The other? A pretender.

They are both self-destructive embarrassments to humanity. Both have faced persistent accusations of sexual misconduct. But one of them hasn’t let his self-destructive tendencies affect his business.

The other? He has turned one of the most popular and successful sports franchises into a bottom-feeder.

The Cowboys were recently valued at $8 billion by Forbes. Skipper Dan’s Commanders were priced at $5.6 billion. They were once close in value. In fact, after Skipper Dan bought the Redskins in 1999, their value would shoot to the top of the list for seven straight years.

Now they are $2.5 billion apart, and the Commanders have fallen from the top of the league to sixth in valuation, now surpassed by the Patriots, Rams, Giants and Bears.

Let it be noted that the Commanders’ value increased 33% from 2021, according to Forbes.

The Commanders/Redskins have grown in value in spite of Skipper Dan’s disastrous ownership that has driven away thousands of fans and television viewers.

Skipper Dan had the good fortune of buying into the NFL, a business juggernaut that seems immune to outside forces like a war with the president of the United States and a pandemic that shut the entire country down and the aura of self-destruction that surrounds the Washington franchise.

The Cowboys have grown in value in part because of Jones and his business acumen, even though both teams have had little success on the football field over the past two decades.

Skipper Dan has been one of Jones’ customers and intends to be so in the future. Jones started a business with the New York Yankees called Legend Hospitality. They handle the concessions and suite sales for many of the other franchises in the league. In fact, the Redskins hired the company in 2013 for concessions at Ghost Town Field, a deal that lasted just one year.

But they are hoping to do business again soon. Skipper Dan made a deal with Legends to sell sponsorship and premium seats for a new Commanders stadium, according to a June 2021 report by venuesnow.com.

That’s an optimistic business arrangement, isn’t it?

Just look at their stadium situations. JonesAT&T Stadium is one of the top venues in the country, hosting Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours, College Playoff National Championships and major title fights, among other major attractions.

Skipper Dan’s Ghost Town Field was deemed unfit by FIFA to host a World Cup soccer game. It cost Washington its shot at being a World Cup city for the 2026 games. He is no closer to a new stadium than he was when the plans for a new home surrounded by a moat were first announced in 2016.

Jones is one of the most powerful owners in the league, if not the most powerful. He is the one who brokered the game-changing Fox television deal. He may be a poor excuse for a human being, but that doesn’t get in the way of his pocketbook.

Skipper Dan is the NFL’s pool boy. He’s a seat at the table, nothing more, and now his wife sits in that seat because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell believes he has banished Skipper Dan from the day-to-day operations of the team.

That “banishment” was for the sins attorney Beth Wilkinson uncovered in the investigation she conducted last year into the franchise’s record of sexual misconduct and workplace bullying — the documented results of which remain hidden by the league.

If those results are ever revealed or if the seven different government, NFL and NFLPA probes into Skipper Dan’s business uncover unprecedented public damage, Jones might very well back away from his embrace of Skipper Dan

But perhaps no owner in the league can relate to the notion of “there, but for the grace of God, go I” than Jones when it comes to the idea of getting rid of NFL owners.

Whatever misconduct by Skipper Dan is revealed, Jones may just see as the weekly calendar in Dallas.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.


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