Examining Daniel Snyder’s tenure as Redskins owner reveals crucial missteps that he has made.
When the Redskins took Robert Griffin III as the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Washington fans rejoiced. Griffin brought with him a certain charisma along with a huge, infectious smile and an unconventional but highly effective way of playing quarterback. His speed and strong arm electrified the league and led the Redskins to their first playoff berth in the past four seasons.
In Week 14 of that season, Griffin tweaked his knee, which was later confirmed to be an LCL sprain. He sat out one game but returned for the following matchup against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles, which Washington won. Controversially, it was revealed on the same day that the Redskins faced the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the playoffs that Griffin had not been cleared to play by his doctors in Week 14 due to lingering concussion symptoms that he suffered the week prior.
The decision to allow the highly promising rookie quarterback to play through his pain is not rare in the football world, where a fast turnaround after suffering an injury is admired and praised. Had Griffin’s knee not promptly exploded in the game against the Seahawks, the reports about his injuries would have made him seem even more like a warrior.
Griffin missed a whole year and came back diminished. Mike Shanahan, then the Redskins’ coach, was subsequently lambasted for his eagerness to play Griffin while he was hurt. The Redskins missed the playoffs for the 11th time in 15 seasons and are very likely to add to that number this year as they now sit at 3-8. Interestingly, this underwhelming period of Washington football has coincided with Daniel Snyder’s tenure — he purchased the team for a record $800 million in 1999, and has ever since been ranked near the top of every annual list of worst owners in the NFL/sports in general.
One of the most glaring constants of the team in the past 15 years has been its very low rate of head coach retention. Since Snyder has been owner there have been seven different coaches, which averages out to be a new one every other season. It is universal sports knowledge that such a lack of consistency will not translate to wins. In comparison, Bill Belichick has been coaching the New England Patriots since 2000, in which time the Pats have won three Super Bowl titles and have missed the playoffs just three times.
A popular theory about why the Redskins have consistently been unable to capitalize on a good season and extend it into the next has revolved around its nickname, which is essentially an ethnic slur used against Native Americans. There is a compelling, although not exactly factual, basis to this, but if the Redskins’ bad karma does indeed play a part in their perpetual mediocrity — their last Super Bowl win in 1991 seems like a dream —Snyder has made a variety of unintuitive, illogical moves to exacerbate the team’s juju problems.
To support the team’s name, Snyder has flat out lied about its origins — he has asserted that “Redskin” is an homage to Native Americans and honors a former Indian coach, but it turns out that coach was apparently a German-American who, in an effort to avoid being drafted into World War I, registered as an Indian. He has adamantly refused to change the name, even though earlier this season thousands of Native Americans and supporters alike gathered outside the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium during the Redskins’ away game to protest the use of a racial slur as a team name.
Additionally, in a misguided attempt to quell the criticism that comes with purposely insulting an entire population, Snyder sued the Oneida Indian Nation. He has tried to quiet angry Native Americans by offering them money to build a memorial skate park, which was refused by the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe as “bribe” money. And he has publicized supportive statements made by an Indian chief who, it turns out, is not even Indian.
Lack of talent, the inability of the team to be a cohesive unit, and other on-field issues plague Washington. But the reflexive dislike and public disapproval of the franchise and its well-documented inconsistency are on Snyder. Until he steps down, I doubt that the Redskins will ever experience long-term success - or a name change.
Edited by Michael Tony.
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