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Hit The Road, Dan, And Don't You Come Back No More, No More...

Around this time each spring, I used to spend an unhealthy amount of time exploring the upcoming crop of college football players headed to the NFL. I didn’t attack this task with the same rigor and detail as my friend and colleague Stephen Newman, but I loved forming my own opinions about who my beloved Washington Redskins should take in the NFL Draft.

Over the last decade, that energy diminished significantly, and the man responsible for ruining that enthusiasm and passion - owner Dan Snyder - has now also walked away from the Washington football franchise, albeit under different circumstances.

Snyder is leaving with billions of dollars, as an agreement in principle to sell the team carries a $6 billion price tag for the new ownership group, led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris. It’s unsurprisingly the most expensive NFL franchise sale in league history, and closes the book on a 23-year tenure noted as much for controversy than wins and loses.

But while Snyder’s reign over the Washington football fanbase is now over, the damage is done. And in some ways, the damage is permanent.

For starters, the stain Snyder has left on the workplace culture at the formerly known Redskins Park in Ashburn is deep and disgusting. Investigations into the franchise alleged a toxic and unsafe work environment, especially for women, of which more than 40 alleged they were victims of sexual harassment. Snyder also allegedly violated the sacred trust of his fellow owners, as he stands accused of possibly running afoul of the NFL’s revenue-sharing agreement, concealing oodles of cash from his comrades in ownership.

Then there’s all the small things that add up over time — selling expired beer at Fed Ex Field, allowing players to play on a disintegrating field in the colder months and letting collected rainwater leak from a pipe onto fans trying to enjoy an overly mediocre product in the field. Oh, and we all remember the abomination that is the Sean Taylor “statue”.

Each of these incidents, some proven, some alleged, are gross and unbecoming of an NFL owner. They’re all disqualifying in their own way.

But personally, the one transgression that will impact me for the rest of my life was Snyder’s call to “retire” the Redskins name and rebrand the franchise in the summer of 2020.

I’m not going to litigate the name debate — at this point people’s minds are made up. But when Snyder made that call, he took something away from me that I’ll never get back.

The Redskins were essentially the centerpiece of my childhood. My dad and I bonded over many things, but football and the Redskins topped the list. We went to games, went to training camp, followed roster moves closer than the news and spent enough money on memorabilia to fund a retirement account.

As I grew older and went away to school, the Redskins still served as a way for my dad and I to bond from afar. Even through all the losses, we watched. Even after all the embarrassments, we watched.

But when Snyder and his cronies attempted to sanitize the team of all its character and history, what was left over was nothing short of an unrecognizable and decomposing corpse of a franchise. The storied Redskins became the Walmart-brand Football Team and eventually, the expansion-style Commanders.

What Snyder created, and is now leaving behind, is a hollowed-out skeleton of what he inherited. Jack Kent Cooke deserved better than this. The fans deserved better than this. My dad deserved better than this.

Snyder, in all his disgrace, is now gone, but his stench remains and will for the rest of time. No manner of winning or philanthropic work can erase what he’s done to fans, both former and current, as well as the victims of a hellish work environment that he oversaw and allegedly participated in.

And for all these wrongs, what does Snyder receive as punishment? Just a few billion dollars.

I hope he can live on that.

I thought that Snyder’s departure as owner of the Washington Commanders would bring some personal closure, yet all I feel is emptiness. The days of me preparing for the NFL Draft like a lunatic are long gone and never to return.

Hopefully, Dan Snyder will do the same.

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Thursday, 01 June 2023

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