A wise NFL owner – particularly one with Dan Snyder’s track record – would keep a low profile during the current lockout. Nothing is really happening, anyway, so why not take advantage of it and drop out of sight for a while?
But the Redskins’ boss gave an interview to Fox 5’s Dave Feldman, and, as you can see, neither particularly distinguished himself. Snyder showed a fuzzy grasp of his 12-year tenure, and Feldman – despite several opportunities – failed to correct him.
Their talk began, by the way, with Dan telling Feldman that his 12th anniversary as an owner doesn’t fall this week – as Dave thought – but July 14. I’d forgotten that, that Snyder took over on Bastille Day. (Heads – beginning with the guillotining of general manager Charley Casserly – would certainly roll in the years that followed.) But on to the more interesting parts of their conversation …
Snyder on the high point of his ownership (advancing to the second round of the 2005 playoffs and playing the Seahawks in Seattle): “We were ahead, actually, I remember, and then it started raining… . Not very lucky out there… . It gave ’em, I think, an advantage, because they’re a really good rain team out in Seattle… . End of the third quarter it started pouring down.”
A couple of things. First, the Redskins led only briefly in the game – 3-0 on a 26-yard field goal by John Hall in the second quarter. The Seahawks then took the kickoff, drove 74 yards to a touchdown and were up by as much as 17-3 two plays into the final period. (Here’s the play-by-play of that 20-10 loss.)
As for the Redskins’ luck that day, it wasn’t all that bad. Consider:
● Seattle’s Shaun Alexander, the NFL’s rushing champion that season with 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, exited with an injury after just six carries.
● Hall’s field goal was set up by a dropped punt that was recovered at the Seahawks’ 39.
● The other Washington score came on a pass that bounced off a Seattle defender and into the hands of a surprised Santana Moss.
Most folks would say those were three pretty nice breaks. But to hear Snyder tell it, the Redskins were done in by the weather and the fact that they were “not very lucky.” (The Seahawks, incidentally, fumbled a kickoff that day in addition to the punt, so the rain obviously bothered them, too.)
Later, Snyder says: “I came in as a young brash guy, and [at] 34, one of the youngest owners ever in the NFL, and that stirs it up. And I was a fan coming in, I think the team was 3-13 or whatever it was the year prior, and I was just like every fan – ‘Hey, we’ve got to make changes’ – and made a bunch of wrong moves and a bunch of right moves.”
Where do I begin? How about with “3-13 or whatever it was”? The Redskins, you may recall, were 6-10 the season before and won six of their last nine games. The previous two years, they were 8-7-1 and 9-7, just missing the playoffs. They were by no stretch of the imagination a 3-13 club. (Let’s hope Dan has a firmer handle on the salary cap than he does on the team’s circumstances when he became owner.)
The far bigger deception, though, is this: Snyder didn’t make many changes that first year. And the reason is that – as he reminded Feldman – he didn’t assume control of the club until July 14, just before training camp.
It wasn’t until the following offseason that Dan started destroying everything Casserly had built. And what he was destroying then wasn’t a “3-13 or whatever it was” team, it was a 10-6 team that had won the division and come within two points of making the NFC championship game. (It’s still the Redskins’ only division title under Snyder.)
So since Feldman didn’t break in and say, “Uh, Dan …,” I decided to break in and say, “Uh, Dan … .”
It just goes back to what I’ve been saying since, well, pretty much since Bastille Day 1999: The Redskins owner has a warped perspective of his club and his contributions to it, and it affects the team’s ability to be successful – on the field, at least.