He is a cloud hanging over what should have been a pleasant week. The Chiefs frustrated Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, their beloved backup Taylor Heinicke added to his legend, and Washington’s passing game looked as complete as it has all season — but what did it matter? The weekly distraction of football for this football franchise does little to quell the dumpster fire that has spread through the owner’s suite, into the stands and across social media.
Daniel Snyder is stepping up efforts to shift the blame to former ally Bruce Allen
Commanders can’t even recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month without a reminder of their owner’s poor approval ratings. With two minutes to go before half-time, echoing whistles echoed through the lower bowl. At first the noise seemed out of place; the scoreboard was playing the “Think Pink” video, and who in their right mind would boo breast cancer survivors?
Then it made sense. The video shows Tanja Snyder. She may be a survivor and an advocate for cancer research and awareness, but in that failed moment, spiteful fans only cared about her last name and job title.
She is, after all, a co-owner, so they booed. Then, forming a chorus with plenty of Packers fans only too willing to laugh and jeer, the fans broke into a loud “Sell the team!” chant.
Loud enough for NFL owners to listen? Maybe not, but there’s a difference between the anonymous cries of Twitter trolls in all-caps that can be easily ignored and the full-throated demands of the very demographic Washington is trying to target with its rebranding. And these coveted fans happened to be sitting right above the commander’s line, and just below the press box full of media and team personnel.
We’ve all heard it. Of course, so does the NFL. The Snyders are the owners who inspire Washington fans in throwback burgundy and the raw-heads who invade their space to unite and find harmony on a common ground: their hatred of the league’s most radioactive owner.
On the business side, commanders may not care about how they are viewed outside of the DMV. This is their bubble, and they know how, with a wink and a nod to the part of the fan base still attached to that racist name — at the homecoming rally before the game, Tanya Snyder declared, “Long live the Redskins, and let’s beat Green Bay!” — can do just about anything and still draw 60,427 people who will turn their brains off because of the chaos surrounding the franchise. They think their base is still strong. But on Sunday, even fans who choose to plug their ears and scream “La la la” I couldn’t help but hear those songs.
How many more unpleasant moments must happen — and national broadcast segments must be broadcast – until at least 24 owners with the power to vote against Daniel Snyder hear it?
At least Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay appeared to be the first of his breed to show some backbone.
On Tuesday, during the NFL’s fall meeting, Irsay was scheduled to provide popcorn for his impromptu news conference. He made a show of stating that the league should seriously consider removing Snyder from ownership.
“We have to finish the investigation.” But to me, it’s something that I think should be seriously considered for removal,” Irsay said. “I [the owners] they have full authority to do so.”
Until Sunday, Irsay hadn’t given up. In an interview with Fox, the same network that aired the Commanders’ 23-21 win over Green Bay, he reiterated his belief that Snyder’s behavior had tarnished the league.
“We have an obligation as owners to listen to the fans and we can’t bury our heads in the sand because of this,” Irsay said.
The owner is shown to be bad for business when the fate of his franchise is at stake the story. On Sunday, the Commanders improved to 3-4, the same record as the Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. But these teams will spend the next few weeks talking about wild-card spots or quarterback play. You know, football stuff. Even with Heinicke playing well enough to produce a new jersey and coach Ron Rivera potentially ending his annual slow start to lead this team on a winning streak, Washington will be an afterthought in national programs.
Jenkins: Daniel Snyder is always looking for the naive. This time it could be him.
Until there is a resolution on Commander ownership, banter during candid PSAs will be the norm. And that’s simply not the case at any other NFL stadium. Nowhere else does an owner get worse treatment than the umpires — who may or may not have spent the night at FedEx Field huddled in front of a monitor still reviewing that Brian Robinson Jr. fumble. (I’m not saying it took forever, but quarterback Carson Wentz’s injured finger may have healed by the time the referees were done.)
While the results of the league’s investigation into Snyder, led by Mary Jo White, seem to have hinged so much on it, that hasn’t stopped Irsay from his one-man public campaign. Nor did it silence the voices of the people who should matter most.
After the game, as happy Washington fans converged toward Gate A along with Packers fans, there were the normal screams of delight. One man wearing a vintage Sean Taylor jersey playfully taunted the green gang with, “Go Pack, go!” The woman waved her burgundy and gold pom-pom as a friend walking beside her clapped and screamed.
However, another Washington fan smiled as he couldn’t resist breaking out the good vibes with more chants.
“SELL! THE! THE TEAM!” He shouted. When it picked up a bit, the fan changed his tune.
On Sunday, Commanders fans voiced their grievances. NFL owners should listen up.