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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

For Washington Redskins fans, having just a bad team would be a welcome improvement from having a broken franchise.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Dan Snyder has ruined football for Washington, D.C. We will begin our argument for the removal of Dan Snyder here today.
  2. Notice I didn’t say that Dan Snyder has ruined the Redskins, or soured fans on the experience of rooting for the Redskins. Sure, he has done those things too, but he has done almost nothing more egregious than his efforts to erode the love of America’s pastime in the nation’s capital—also a top 5 media market in the United States. Think about that. Everyone reading this will think about this from a different perspective. If you ever were a season ticket holder, you’re likely a former season ticket holder (like me). If you used to try and get to a few games a year, you have likely now decided that FedEx Field is no fun to attend anymore (like me). If you like to schedule your whole Sunday around the Redskins on television, you may be among those willing to entertain—gasp—doing other things on Sunday afternoons. I am not there yet, but I am very much in the minority when it comes to people I have always gathered with to enjoy Redskins games. Worse, what I am seeing isn’t just a lack of interest in getting together to watch the Redskins on Sundays. It’s a lack of interest in getting together to watch the NFL on Sunday. This is a pretty big deal if you really think about it. Ultimately, this is what the owners in the NFL should genuinely be concerned about.
  3. To speak only about the experience of being a Redskins fan is pretty short-sighted. Thanks to legalized sports betting, fantasy football, HD television and products like the Red Zone channel, the NFL has become an undeniably entertaining experience. It is brought into your home like never before, and even when your team isn’t on, you can watch the stars of the league put on an amazing display of the greatest team sport in the country. The league has worked some magic to evolve the game this way, and that magic has resulted in an invincible product: thanks to the television revenue, it is now pretty much impossible to lose money running an NFL franchise. As for the nation’s capital, there have been few teams over the decades that have had as positive a love affair with their city as the Redskins have had with the district. This city hasn’t always known a winner either—the Redskins have had their share of historically bad periods (I am too young to have experienced the 60’s but I am told it was...rough). Through it all, the city identified with its team. The locals and fans of the team wore their fandom like a badge of honor. I have argued that even after Snyder first bought the team—and we sucked—fans still flocked to FedEx and still sang the fight song and still wore the colors proudly year-round. What Redskins fans and DMV citizens are waking up to these days is removed even from that beginning part of the Snyder era. Not only is the fanbase staying away from FedEx, but as I say above, they are losing overall interest in the team that was once at the heart of everything in the DMV. And THAT has led to a diminished interest in one of the best products in American business today—the NFL. And THIS is something that has to be at least starting to seep into the hearts and minds of Dan’s fellow owners. Before they start trying to export the game to Europe, maybe they should make sure they re-establish the game in the heart of the free world.
  4. Dan Snyder has successfully monetized the passion and loyalty of the Redskins fanbase. I always wondered how long it would take to complete that mission of his. The answer is: just about 20 years. It’s done. The majority of people attending games at FedEx are not even Redskins fans. They are there to troll the minority of Redskins fans in attendance. People are deliberately NOT buying jerseys. They are deliberately NOT buying licensed products because they feel like they have already given Snyder all the money they will ever give to him. Some fans have even made the connection that their viewership of the NFL on Sunday leads to money going into Snyder’s pocket. Unfortunately for us all, TV revenue is unlikely to be impacted, though one could make the argument that if a top media market like Washington, D.C. produces lower ratings, it could impact the value of the television contracts. I am skeptical about that, but I grant that it is a possibility. The only way Dan Snyder can complete his mission of milking the last drops out of the Washington Redskins is by selling the team. This piece of sobering news is likely the most positive thing I will have written for this week’s Sixpack.
  5. On the field, we are seeing more and more disinterest on the parts of the players. I am not here today to call out anyone for quitting, because I don’t yet see that happening, but the gaffes from the players in burgundy and gold MUST raise legitimate questions of interest. This typically happens at the end of the season, but I believe it is here already. The Trent Williams story is meaningful on this point. There haven’t been many players who have put more on the line personally over the last handful of seasons as Trent. He has played injured for his teammates a LOT. His willingness to blast Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen specifically as the cause of his holdout matters. To say it hasn’t factored into the hearts and minds of some of his teammates this season would be disingenuous. When the best player on the team—a guy who has repeatedly answered the bell for his brothers—throws his hands in the air and says, “I won’t do it for Dan and Bruce,” guess what? It matters. In fact, I am now of the mind that there are only two possible reasons why Trent Williams is not playing for the Redskins. He is either injured and can’t play (a very real possibility that can’t be completely dismissed) or he is actively involved at some level with the NFLPA and/or other interested parties that have genuine concerns that the Redskins need to have new ownership. (These are the two possibilities I can’t get away from, and the statement from Bruce Allen when he said that Trent would play again and it would be for the Redskins has me even more convinced. It is the kind of statement made by a lackey who has dug in on a position as some kind of legal matter unfolds...though what do I know?) Jay Gruden and his staff know by now that this part of their coaching careers is over, yet they continue to flounder about because...because why? Because there is no true leadership in the Redskins organization to put this team back onto any other course. Whether it is Gruden’s or Manusky’s fault is almost immaterial at this point. The environment at Redskins Park is not one where anyone can succeed because the guy in charge—Dan Snyder—is the opposite of a leader. He has slunk into the shadows of Redskins Park to watch his business twist in the wind. Firing a coach is a move that most owners would make to “get a spark” or to “light a fire” under folks to perform. Snyder has already lit a fire. It’s been raging for years, and an interim coach would only be a log thrown on the fire.
  6. Over the last 10 years, I have dreaded more than a few Monday Sixpacks. Putting head to pillow on a Sunday night after yet another heart-freezing loss has sometimes been accompanied by a slight anxiety. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? What can I write with sincerity that won’t come off as blatantly cynical or pessimistic—in a space where I pride myself on finding silver linings and half-full glasses? The first thing I always tell aspiring writers is that honesty is your most powerful tool. No matter the style or genre, a reader can always identify honesty—and can always sniff out dishonesty. I have enjoyed the benefit of establishing my voice, which has allowed me to sometimes get away with tongue-in-cheek, optimistic bluster. It is football after all, not world war, so there is generally always room to take liberties with the tone and tenor when readers understand who you are and from where you are coming on so many Monday mornings. I felt no dread for the Sixpack this week. What is happening to this Redskins organization is so clear and obvious, it becomes our responsibility to continue calling it out for what it is, even when it feels like a futile effort. This is the conversation we are having about our team and to try and single out a good play or a great playcall would be a slap in the face of the Redskins fanbase. We aren’t anywhere new with regard to the Dan Snyder Problem. It continues to be THE problem, and it continues to be as unavoidable as it is undeniable. What has changed, and what continues changing by the second, is the time we have spent in this situation. That time grows and grows. Dan Snyder thinks we will be distracted by a rookie quarterback. What we know is that Dwayne Haskins is more likely to be ruined as a football player than he is to be a successful quarterback in this league. We know that because that is a truth that has existed for this team for quite some time. The Washington Redskins, under the stewardship of Daniel Snyder has been, and continues to be, the perfect place to come and fail. People like me are quitting left and right from covering this team because it is depressing. I see it differently. I am uplifted by the knowledge that we agree—for the most part—on what the problem is. I am uplifted by the clamor that continues to grow for the removal of Dan Snyder from this organization. We all understand that this is not just an uphill battle, but one that almost certainly can’t be won by us. I believe it was Winston Churchill who suggested that lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for...again, this is only football, but it is also our passion. I have the luxury of remembering watching Super Bowl championships and experiencing this town when the Redskins were in charge of it. It is my responsibility to fight as hard as I can—in this small and otherwise unimportant space—so that all of you who have never felt that can someday join me in having that memory. As pointless as we might all think it is, we must change our focus from #FireBruceAllen to #SnyderHasToGo. Though some might think it hollow and fruitless, our rallying cry should at least focus on the actual problem.