Ratto: Name change? Try regime change next

Things are happening with the Washington football club

Ray Ratto
July 03, 2020 - 1:06 pm
Ratto: Name change? Try regime change next

George Gojkovich/Getty Images​

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Dan Snyder has apparently reached the point where his stubbornness can no longer go — the place where companies that do business with his football team don't want to invest another dime in him or his football team, the Washington Racial Slurs. Even the president of Federal Express, who is a minority shareholder in the team, the owner of the stadium's naming rights and himself a noted conservative, knows where the wind is blowing all that money.

So now that we know what Danny Snyder is, let's see (a) how quickly he will submit to being rolled on his back and (b) how soon he realizes that the thing he craved most by owning the team — respect through attention — will offend him to the point of selling.

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While most folks in the sporty dodges have amused themselves with potential new nicknames (The Offensive Anachronisms, The Chickens Coming Home To Roost, The Artist Formerly Known As Hate), there is still the matter of Snyder, the third in the short history of Washington football owners. The first, George Preston Marshall, was such a spectacular racist that he is being eradicated from the team's history as though this was the Joseph Stalin Children's Hospital. The second, Jack Kent Cooke, was a brash but otherwise inoffensive Canadian businessman who also owned the Los Angeles Lakers and The Forum in Inglewood. Cooke wanted to make a splash in the biggest little city in the world not named Reno and quickly took on a partner when the money got short.  Edward Bennett Williams, was a renowned Washington D.C. lawyer, and though he never reached Marshall depths was still a Washington lawyer and Lord only knows what mischief he got into in his time.

And then there was Snyder — IS Snyder, that is. The name may go (and there's some dispute about whether this is just a stalling tactic until the coast clears again and the iconography can return), but he'll still be there, fuming and resentful that the one thing he resisted most of all -- being told what to do about his business by outsiders — has finally come to rest directly on his chest.

He has fought on this hill since he bought the team in 1999 from the Cooke estate, and did it with the NFL owner's requisite tone-deafness and bullying until he needed a third stadium on the grounds of the first one they played in to replace the second one he had built in the suburbs and which fans had learned to stay away from the past several years as his teams lurched from 7-9 to 6-10 year after year (the average wins per year in his time is just below seven wins, the postseason record is 2-5 and they haven't won a playoff game in 15 years.

But that just makes him bad at running a football team, and . The name and how ferociously he and his tied to lie about the kindnesses the name showed to Native Americans insulted the intelligence of anyone with intelligence, and he clung to it to play toward the same part of the fan base that Marshall did 60 years earlier. On the evil scale, Snyder could not hold a torch to Marshall, but his defense of the name and logo was so strident and disingenuous and lengthy that he shouldn't get credit for taking the hint from the billionaire businesses propping him up. If the name is changed, it won't be because of him but despite him, and this "review" is largely just an exercise to see how Snyder can end up not being humiliated having to eat so many of his words in one sitting.

That is, if he plans to eat them at all. The "review" could also reinforce his argument that he's been honoring Native Americans all along, and that he really isn't George Preston Marshall after all.

Either way, whatever enjoyment he has gotten from owning this team is rapidly being reduced the money he makes every year, Put another way, the team value is worth more than his total net worth, so without the team, he's just another rich guy with no place to go and nobody to go with him. The news ultimately won't be whether or not he changes the name, or even what the new name will be, but whether it's worth it to him to stay at all.

Public life has not been good to Danny Snyder because he couldn't shift with the times. Now, like Marshall, he is that guy -- unless there really is still an ability for redemption in America, and what he does after the name is changed to earn that redemption. And if he can't do that, there really is no point in him not fading in to the dustbin of history, to choose an analogy of former President Ronald Reagan, just one more person who with the benefit of time looks like a hell of a lot better guy than the one we have now.

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