In a 2006 Washingtonian profile of Redskins owner Dan Snyder — “The Dan Snyder You Don’t Know” — the great magazine titan and business journalist Bill Regardie wrote:
“He’s the best peddler I have seen in 40 years of covering Washington business. Best adman. Best salesman. Best direct marketer. And yet, when it comes to marketing Dan Snyder, you would think he was selling rat poison. Why? I don’t understand.”
The “rat poison” reference at the time spoke to Snyder’s reluctance to market himself.
Now it likely has a different meaning.
No one wants to stand next to Snyder these days, save those getting paid to do so. His public image has never been lower. It’s as if the years of losing, the heavy-handed mismanagement and the long list of other issues — including the controversial Redskins name — are finally dragging under a franchise that was once an NFL showcase.
Recently, Snyder’s sinking organization has been weighed down further by poor attendance, a public outcry over the claiming of linebacker Reuben Foster after his arrest on domestic violence charges (which have since been dropped) and the sudden purge of a team of business executives brought in just five months earlier to improve relations with fans.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is the latest to distance himself from Snyder. The governor, according to the Washington Post, pulled out of negotiations for a new stadium next to the MGM National Harbor.
When the Post first revealed Hogan’s plans for the federally-owned land and his effort to acquire the Oxon Cove Park acreage, the news generated significant pushback from the nearby community, politicians and environmental activists. And no one in Prince George’s County stood up and said it was a good idea.
Four months ago, in an interview with WAMU FM radio, newly-elected County Executive Angela Alsobrooks spoke glowingly about wanting the Redskins, who have an agreement to stay at FedEx Field until 2027, in Prince George’s County. “We would love to see not just a solution that allows the stadium to remain here, but also develop a whole entertainment complex next to the stadium that offers dining and entertainment,” she said.
Now, Hogan is no longer working with anyone to keep the football team in Maryland — and, according to sources, the governor is no longer willing to finance the infrastructure around a stadium. It is important to note that both Maryland and District officials have made it clear that they have no intention of contributing any money toward the stadium itself.
Somehow it has been concluded that Hogan’s withdrawal puts the District in the driver’s seat to have the team return to the city. But the District’s plans are just as complicated, if not more so. Their sales pitch to date has hinged on the idea of Snyder building his stadium on the RFK Stadium site in return for development rights of valuable riverfront land.
As is the case with Maryland, the problem is the city doesn’t have the right to make that deal. The land is federally owned, and a back-door effort to get legislation passed in Congress in December to allow for commercial development failed. Now, in the new Democrat-controlled House, chances are slim such an amendment can pass.
While D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has stated her public support for a Redskins stadium in the city, the driving force behind that effort has been Council member Jack Evans, chairman of the council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue. Evans is facing an ethics investigation for his dealings with a digital sign company that would have benefited from legislation he proposed.
As it was, support for a Redskins stadium on the council was precarious at best a few months ago. Plus you have residents around the RFK site who have been vocal in their opposition to a return of the team to their neighborhood — a neighborhood that has changed dramatically since the Redskins left in 1996.
Virginia? Always a longshot, and that was before their current political turmoil involving Gov. Ralph Northam and his fight to stay in office in light of the racist photos found in his medical school yearbook, plus the sexual assault charges facing Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
It was former governor Terry McAuliffe who publicly championed a Redskins stadium in Virginia, not Northam, who is now fighting for his political life.
Besides, projects like this don’t get built in Virginia. The development graveyard in that state is filled with stadiums and other lofty projects that failed to get off the drawing board — like the stadium Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke tried to build there.
Think about that — Cooke started his quest for a new stadium in 1987 with then-Mayor Marion Barry. It floundered, and then, after a falling out with new Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, Cooke stood side by side with Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder and said he was going to build a stadium in Potomac Yards in Alexandria. That effort failed as well, and Cooke was forced to build his new stadium on its current site in Landover — a location that has been criticized since the day it opened in 1997.
Here you had a popular owner with a beloved team in the midst of a three-Super Bowl championship run, and he failed to get his stadium built at nearly every stop until he had no place to go except for a location that pleased no one.
What makes anyone believe that the current owner who you would think is peddling rat poison is going to be any more successful than Jack Kent Cooke?
⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.