Ratto: Danny Snyder trips over the bare minimum

On the changes at the Washington football club

Ray Ratto
July 13, 2020 - 8:56 am
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In changing the nickname of his prized possession, Snyder managed to make the football team that made Washington hate football seem like a last-minute bait-and-switch. He is trying to save the current structure of his ownership, and squeeze out another new stadium he doesn't deserve and doesn't intend to pay for, and that's how he got religion. Hardly seems like the kind of noble epiphany it will be sold as, does it?

Let me help you with that. No.

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Snyder was adamant-in-capital-letters that he would never change the nickname or iconography of the football team, making a series of false equivalencies with manufactured data and fraudulent characters to try and prop up his arguments. His actual argument, the one he never expressed, is that he has money and nobody can tell him what to do because of the legal theory YNTBOM — "you're not the boss of me."

Well, he found out what happens when a new boss shows up, or in this case many. The COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be his boss. So did the men who owned 40 percent of the team and decided they no longer wanted to be such silent partners. So did his team's diminishing popularity based on results and plunging attendance figures (they once claimed tens of thousands on a season ticket waiting list nobody could see and now were playing in front of roughly as many empty seats). So did his inability to shame the government of the District of Columbia into building him a new stadium even though his old one was only 23 years old and was only obsolete because his team was in it.

But the bad name is now gone, the new name is... well, apparently copyrighted already by an area realtor, which is the kind of opportunism that ought to get him a piece of the team just on sheer brass. Let's hope Snyder is forced to avoid a court fight by giving them a name that befits his reign — like, say, the Ineffectuals.

Of course, it won't be that. It will skirt the line of Redskins without actually repeating it, and there will be another nonsensical mythology wrapped around it, but it doesn't really matter any more. Like the Washington Bullets-turned-Wizards in 1997, the new name won't easily graft itself from brain to tongue to ear., It will be a constant reminder of Snyder, his 22-year-old refusal to acknowledge his wrong, and how when money alone doesn't talk, money and arm-twisting does. For all the protests and pressure of the citizenry over these many years, the things that forced Snyder to do the thing he would never do IN ALL CAPS no less, were business partners wanting to get away from him, a city government that told him it wouldn't do business with him, and a changing nation that now finds long-held icons to be no longer beyond review. The protests were always there. The money squeeze was the game-changer. He got to be offensively tone-deaf until he couldn't afford it.

Everything about Snyder's 22-year reign is now fully a testament to the old adage, "Nothing motivates quite like being a social outcast." He has taken the surest of things, an NFL franchise in the nation's capital, and made it invisible save for the one thing people hate most about it. The Anonymii, as they will be known until further notice, have been losing support in the stands and at suite level for years, and now City Hall has turned. Lots of teams become less relevant; only this one became repellent.

And now it is trying a desperate remake to fix all its ills, kind of like a new version of the Joe Gibbs rehire 15 years ago, and every one of his desperate free agent overspends. Nothing has ever come easily for Snyder the football owner, and he'll do no better at it now that he's done the easiest thing he could ever have done because ultimately, he is who he is and always will be.

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