Dan Snyder

The NFL has a Dan Snyder problem

The NFL has a Dan Snyder problem

It’s been a really bad year for Daniel Snyder, the embattled owner of the Washington NFL franchise.

And it could get a lot worse.

First, Snyder came under intense pressure from Nike, FedEx and other corporate sponsors to finally change the team’s racist name and offensive logo after 87 years. Then he was roundly criticized for announcing the name change in a press release that used the word “Redskins” no less than seven times.

Now comes a powerful Washington Post article quoting 15 women employees and former employees saying that they were sexually harassed by team officials. Three employees accused in the piece - including pro personnel director Alex Santos and radio voice Larry Michael - abruptly left the team this week.

Although Snyder wasn’t directly accused of harassment, he does come across in the piece as complicit in creating a toxic culture and allowing a pattern of abuse within the organization that lasted for years.

Snyder issued an apology and announced that an outside law firm would investigate the claims. The NFL put out a statement calling the allegations “disturbing.”

But this all raises the question whether Snyder should be or will be forced to sell the franchise after more than two decades.

Certainly in Washington, sentiment seems to be in favor of it.

A local TV station, WUSA, ran a Twitter poll that showed 85 percent of people responding in favor of it. Numerous national and local columnists have called for Snyder to sell the team. A national women’s advocy group called UltraViolet issued a release Friday saying, “If the NFL is serious about cleaning up its act, they will force Snyder to sell the team.”

Two years ago, Jerry Richardson was forced to sell the Panthers after a Sports Illustrated article outlined alleged sexual harassment of team employees by Richardson.

This is different because Snyder isn’t being directly accused of the harassment, only tacitly allowing it.

But honestly, it’s almost as bad. There is no way the owner of a football franchise, an owner who is directly involved in the day-to-day operation of a team, didn’t know exactly what was going on.

A few years ago, Snyder would have gotten away with this. I’m not sure he will now since public and corporate sentiment is so strongly anti-Snyder.

We’re living in a different time now, a time with a renewed focus on racism, social justice, human rights.

And when enough people - and billion-dollar companies – refuse to be associated with entities that appear racist or abusive, that’s when change happens.

Snyder is already on thin ice with big-money sponsors because of his steadfast refusal to change the name of the team and the defiant way he finally did it.

How does all this affect the Eagles? From a purely football standpoint, the Redskins haven’t been a challenger for most of Snyder’s tenure.

Snyder, 55, bought the Washington football team and FedEx Field for $800 million in May of 1999 from the estate of Jack Kent Cooke, who died in 1997. At the time, it was the highest price ever paid for a professional sports team. The team is now worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.

Also according to Forbes, Snyder is worth $2.6 billion.

In the 21 years Snyder has owned the team, it has a 142-193-1 record for a .424 winning percentage, which ranks 28th of the 32 NFL teams during that span, ahead of only the Jaguars, Raiders, Lions and Browns.

The franchise has won only two playoff games during his ownership, and only the Bengals, Lions, Bills and Browns have won fewer (none) since 1999.

The team’s last postseason win came in 2005 with Mark Brunell at quarterback and it hasn’t won more than 10 games since 1991.

Washington has gone through eight head coaches under Snyder, and its last back-to-back winning seasons were in 1990 and 1991.

The Eagles have finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East 15 of the 21 years since Snyder bought the team.

What happens next?

The NFL commissioner does has the power to force an owner to sell a team for “conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league,” if his recommendation is approved by at least 24 of the 32 owners.

It’s hard to imagine that will happen here. 

Not yet.

But if there isn’t substantive change in the team’s Ashburn, Va., offices, and the rest of the NFL agrees that Snyder is one embarrassment the league doesn’t need, it might not be far off.

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Sixers' Mike Scott supports new name for his favorite football team — and a new owner

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USA Today Images

Sixers' Mike Scott supports new name for his favorite football team — and a new owner

Mike Scott is a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, a one-time Washington Wizard and a longtime fan of the Washington football team.

He weighed in Monday on his favorite football team’s name, which the organization said Friday it is conducting a “thorough review” on. FedEx requested that the team change its name, while Nike removed all team apparel from its website. The team's current name is widely considered a slur against Native Americans. 

We’ve got some options," Scott said on a video call with reporters. "Red Tails is good. … They’ve been trying to change the name. I’m all for that — change it. S---, change the owner. If they want to change it and represent something else, that’s cool, that’s good. Like I said, I’m all about just doing it. If they want to change the name, I’m with that. Change the owner, too.

Dan Snyder has owned the franchise since 1999.

Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins has endorsed the Red Tails nickname. The famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black aviators in the United States Armed Forces, were known as the Red Tails. 

Scott attended the Eagles’ Week 1 matchup against Washington last season and got into a physical altercation with Eagles fans before the game who he said yelled slurs at him.

The 31-year-old forward has averaged 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in his second season as a Sixer. He’s earned a reputation as a genuine, no-nonsense character. 

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Redskins considering changing name amid rising pressure

Redskins considering changing name amid rising pressure

He said he would never do it.

"We'll never change the name of the team," Dan Snyder told USA Today in 2013. "It's that simple. Never. You can use caps."

Now, amid an increased national focus on racism and social justice and mounting pressure from million-dollar sponsors, his tune has suddenly changed.

The Redskins' owner said in a statement Friday that the franchise will review the team's name, seen by many as racist and offensive to Native Americans and others.

Protests against the Redskins' name and logo have been ongoing for decades, but when companies like FedEx and Nike join those protests, things can change very quickly.

Considering the growing pressure now on the franchise, it would be surprising at this point if the franchise elects not to change its name.

"In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team's name," the statement read. "This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has consistently supported Snyder's decision to keep the team name, released a statement saying only, "In the last few weeks we have had ongoing discussions with Dan and we are supportive of this important step."

FedEx, which paid $205 million for the naming rights for the Redskins' stadium in 1998, asked the Redskins earlier Friday to change the team name. And Nike, the NFL's official uniform supplier, on Thursday removed all Redskins gear from its website while continuing to allow customers to order merchandise from all 31 other teams.

In the statement released by the team, Snyder said: "This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field."

First-year Redskins head coach Ron Rivera, a former Eagles assistant coach and one of three Latin American head coaches in NFL history, indicated in the statement that he favors a name change.

"This issue is of personal importance to me and I look forward to working closely with Dan Snyder to make sure we continue the mission of honoring and supporting Native Americans and our Military."

The team's current name dates back 87 years.

The NFL Boston Braves franchise was founded in 1932 and one year later moved to Fenway Park, which it shared with the baseball franchise of the same name. To avoid confusion, owner George Preston Marshall changed the name to Redskins. The franchise moved to Washington in 1937 and kept the name.

Marshall, who owned the franchise until his death in 1969, refused to allow black players on the roster until 1962, which made the team the last in the NFL to integrate. 

Not until U.S. attorney general Robert F. Kennedy threatened to rescind the team's lease at city-owned RFK Stadium did Marshall finally allow the team's roster to be integrated.

Last month, team officials removed Marshall's name from the Redskins Ring of Honor at FedEx Field, and a statue of Marshall was removed from RFK Stadium by city officials after it was vandalized.

Protests against sports teams and logos perpetuating stereotypes of Native Americans and their culture have grown more widespread in recent years but have been held for decades.

In 1991 — nearly 30 years ago — there were organized protests against the Atlanta Braves and Redskins over their team names and logos, according to an Associated Press story. The story quoted Clyde Bellecourt, director of a group called the American Indian Movement, which organized protests outside Braves and Redskins games.

"It's a racist term," Bellecourt told the AP in October of 1991. "We're not thin-skinned, this just makes a mockery of uses a people and of our culture."

And now, it looks like the franchise is finally going to do something about it.

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