1. I don't know Dan Snyder personally, but this story is not something that would make someone who doesn't know him personally think he is a great guy. As I say below, the truth is that this is not all his fault. It takes two to tango as the saying goes. He sits in the driver's seat, of course, but to the extent members of the media were complicit in this thing, our attention should be spread around more than just the steward of the franchise.
2. Some of my guiltier pleasures in life are the American Pie movies (this isn't the story...in fact, it's barely news). I love them so, in all of their formulaic, Academy Award-snubbed glory. I am reminded today of Petey, the special needs trombone player from the second installment in the series that Jason Biggs is pressed into impersonating at...well...band camp. After causing a ruckus with his solo in the beginning, he returns later in the movie to ruin the recital, prompting the band director to say in disgust, "That kid is...killlllllllling me." Somewhere, Dan Snyder is channeling his inner-band director today, perhaps muttering the same words as he reads or hears the latest from Dave McKenna, the former Washington City Paper writer.
3. Here is the link to the article in question. (I won't be doing a lot of summarizing here, so do yourselves a favor and read the article.) I have to tell you all...some of the revelations/allegations in this piece are staggering (although much of this has been put out there before). STAGGERING. Ever since Dan Snyder failed to prove that Dave McKenna is a liar by suing him, I am left to consider that McKenna actually might know what he is talking about. I am perfectly happy to withhold my judgement to see how this shakes out, but I have to tell you that some of this is simply soul-crushing. My first reaction when I read this article: "Holy crap!" Some of what I read in McKenna's article, I have been told before but I just didn't believe, or didn't want to believe.
4. Many of you might be thinking that this is yet another round of slander and libel (to any lawyers in the group, you are always free to correct my improper use of legal terms), offered up by a guy that has plenty of reason to continue railing against Dan Snyder. I would caution those folks against that knee-jerk reaction. That doesn't mean the story is true, but it very well could be, and if it is, that reaction is exactly what we have been conditioned to have, by the very people we have always counted on to help us understand the truth (you know...reporters, journalists and professional news folks). This troubles the shit out of me.
5. Not for nothing, but reading this caused me to think, "Should I be offended that I was never approached by the Redskins to be bought off?" Hahaha...to all of you out there keeping track, Hogs Haven is not on the take. My blind homerism is mine to own. My defense of Snyder in those early years was strictly pro bono. The good news for all of you who actually care what we think here at Hogs Haven: we are already nobodies! Our version of "unbiased" certainly won't be taught in any ethics classes, but we embrace loving our team. After all, we are Redskins fans like the rest of you, no matter how deflating news like this is. We cover stuff like this because it is pretty damn important (to me).
6. This is the "You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?" part of the Fight today. When Kevin and I first started, we took a beating from the some of the established media folks in the area. Print media was dying, and guys like Kevin and I were to blame, allegedly. We were called fanboys, peddling a soft interview with Dan Snyder back in 2010 amongst other team-defending and franchise-supporting coverage we provided (Kevin really became the voice of the opposition/reality and I stayed on the homer track, which worked for us until it nearly destroyed Kevin). One man who called me out on the air and in person was Andy Pollin. He used disparaging terms in both places to describe the manner in which I covered the team back in 2010-2011. If McKenna is right, Pollin was in on the ground floor of this whole thing--McKenna says Pollin was hired by the team in 2000 to host a team-produced weekly infomercial! Those guys took shots at us for being unprofessional, which we would have been--if we were actually professional journalists (I do call myself a professional writer, which either matters to you or doesn't, but the point is I didn't graduate with a degree in Journalism). Meanwhile, the real professionals were acting like this? It gets harder and harder to hang all of this on Snyder when people who held themselves higher than the rest of us were willing shills. You can snarkily call me a blogger and "keep me in my place" all you want, but my opinions are not bought and paid for, and it occurs to me that this puts me at a major disadvantage when it comes to access to this team. Then again, if that access is just a show, opening the door for the Redskins to feed Hogs Haven team-produced news stories, maybe that is not the direction we need to be going in. Come to think of it, there was a time when the team tried to funnel those videos and stories through me. They stopped trying. I do love content, but imagine the beating I would have taken had I started putting that out on a regular basis?
7. None of us have been so blind that we have failed to see how Dan Snyder has made moves to control the D.C. media. He seemingly drove one of the largest media markets in the nation to a single-sports radio station town. (Consequently, it was the station he owned, or ended up owning.) We have always known about the team's battles with The Washington Post, the angst between the team and the old guard at The Washington Times and all the acrimony involved every time someone said something bad about Snyder in the press over the last decade or more. What I never imagined (or naively failed to see) was that prominent members of the D.C. media were on the take.
8. Stay with me here for a minute. It's 2000/2001. You are a 25-year old with a decent job and no family, resulting in some disposable income. You are a diehard Redskins fan. The "Wait List" is so "long" that you will be lucky to get season tickets before you collect Social Security. Every day, you watch George Michael, one of the godfathers of Washington sports media. You read Michael Wilbon on a regular basis. It seems that there is a real groundswell both inside and outside the organization about this team and you think it is time to get in on it, so you sign up to a club seat contract (because it is the ONLY way to get a season ticket at the time). Is this anyone else's fault? Of course not. You are old enough to take responsibility for your actions...BUT, is it fair that the manner in which your opinion of this team was shaped was so cruelly devious and manipulative? Would you have listened less to George Michael's opinions about the Redskins if you knew he was on Dan Snyder's payroll? Would you have placed less importance on Wilbon's opinions if you knew he had the potential conflict of interest of covering the team and being paid by the team (as the color commentator on the Redskins Broadcast Network)? Like me, you would still love your favorite team to the grave, but would it have mattered to you that a decent amount of the "news" being put out by the D.C. media was actually created and produced by the organization? (I am not suggesting that there weren't folks who knew all of this at the time. I sure didn't, and it seems like at least some of the rest of us didn't as well.) I guess it just doesn't sit well with me that one of my heroes that was so instrumental in shaping my view of the Redskins--George Michael, may he rest in peace--threatened other D.C. journalists in a way that only he could when those journalists considered publishing what some people would call "the truth."
9. There are two sides to every story, or so they say. It seems that Dan Snyder may have succeeded in creating a world where there was only one side: his (genius!!! husbands all over the world are studying this as we speak to see if there are any real-life applications). Even so, I have no real grounds to blame him for "deceiving me," as the team was so dreadful for so long that we all kind of saw the truth on Sundays. This is not about blaming Snyder for me buying season tickets. I made that decision, and it is on me. The truth is that I live to tailgate and watch football. I got exactly what I signed up for there. It just took me almost ten years to figure out that I was a) overpaying for an experience I could get for a fraction of the cost by purchasing tickets in the parking lot; and b) failing to understand that the kind of control Dan Snyder had/has is...well...wrong.
10. What one man thinks is wrong, another man calls "innovative." It looks like team-produced "news" content is here to stay, and is present in many markets. Ultimately, nothing in this article pushes me over the edge, or makes me hate on Dan Snyder any more than any of us have for a variety of reasons over the years. At this point in time, we kind of know who we are dealing with, and we know that Dan Snyder will likely be the steward of the team for many, many years to come. As Lady Jaye once said, "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle."