Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder sat down with beat writer David Elfin for an hour yesterday in his first on-the-record interview with a newspaper reporter in more than two years.
The transcript of the conversation, which follows, covered the gamut from the early dismissal of coaches Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer to this month’s controversial trade of wide receiver Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets.
A self-described “lightning rod” for criticism because of his youth and brashness, Snyder admitted he has made mistakes during his tenure. Snyder, who has yet to produce a winning team following an offseason during which he was in charge, said he has never made decisions on player personnel.
Despite last season’s 6-10 record, Snyder firmly believes the Redskins are headed in the right direction under coach Joe Gibbs. The owner also remains confident FedEx Field will one day play host to the Super Bowl under a temporary, inflatable roof.
TWT: You have been the owner of the Redskins for almost six years. What has been the most rewarding thing for you during that time?
Snyder: Bringing back Joe Gibbs. Clearly that was one of the most important decisions in the history of the franchise, and it was very rewarding to me personally.
TWT: Why was it so important to hire him?
Snyder: You’re talking about someone that can set the standard for the Redskins. By standard, I mean the definition of a Redskin, on the field and off the field. Joe is the perfect guy to put that stamp back on the franchise.
TWT: How about the flip side? What has been the most disappointing thing about your ownership?
Snyder: Probably the tenure of Steve Spurrier, the expectations that he would succeed in the NFL. I think very highly of him and his family.
TWT: Why do you think he didn’t succeed?
Snyder: I don’t know. I’d like to say here’s the exact reason why. There have been a lot of coaches coming from college that haven’t succeeded at this level.
TWT: When you took over, people here were excited because you were a lifelong Washingtonian and had grown up rooting for this team and really cared about the Redskins. Everyone agrees about the latter point, but there’s a perception out there that you were so eager that you went overboard.
Snyder: You may be right. I wasn’t as patient then as I am now. I’ve developed more patience, an understanding of the continuity of the game and continuity on the business side as well. I probably ruffled feathers with the media, made some mistakes that gave them the opportunity [to criticize me]. And you know what happens when you give them the opportunity. …
One of the things that bothers me is that I’ve been painted by some as the greedy owner. In reality, we haven’t raised our general admission ticket prices for four years. That story runs on D8 as a blurb. The story that says we’ve changed our credit-card policy runs on A1 five times. At a certain point, there has to be some journalistic integrity.