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Diner morning news: Lessons for Snyder

It’s time for the ‘Skins owner to stop being selfish. Michael Lombardi

Print This October 27, 2009, 10:29 AM EST

QUOTE: “Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.” -- Kahlil Gibran

I have seen enough. Actually, I had seen enough before Monday night, but I wanted to remain objective at least through the Sherman Lewis play-calling era. The polls have closed in Washington and the verdict is in: The Redskins are bad, and owner Daniel Snyder has won the title of the most selfish owner in the NFL.

That title once belonged to the owner of the Raiders, but since they’ve lost 77 of their last 103 games, no one cares about them anymore. Indifference is not where you want the fan base to reside, but that’s where most Raiders fans seem to be right now – and soon the Redskins’ fans will follow.

Since buying his toy in 1999, Snyder has been able to play fantasy football, running his team in the style and manner he’s certainly entitled to because he signs all the checks. The ‘Skins, however, are 76-84 in that span, have had six different head coaches and too many quarterbacks to name. The one constant in the last 10 years has been the dynamic duo of Snyder and his trusted aid and fellow racquet ball partner, Vinny Cerrato.

After the game Monday night, I watched the Jim Zorn press conference and found myself feeling sorry for Zorn. He is clearly not a head coach, but he’s doing the best he can. His leadership skills are not that of a head coach. If anyone with professional football knowledge had interviewed him, he would not have been given the job. However, the dynamic duo are far from professional football people, so Zorn was able to convince them that he was ready to jump from never calling plays and never running an offense to becoming a head coach. So is this really Zorn’s fault? Hardly. Don’t blame him, blame the selfish owner who put him in the job.

I’ve seen this act before. When the owner is selfish, he’s not looking for the best leader to run his team, he’s looking for the one person who will follow his specific directions the best. I’ve lived in a world where there is not a right or wrong way, only the owner’s way. At least in Oakland the owner understands football -- albeit his own style of football and refuses to even slightly change – while Snyder has no real understanding of the game or how to build a cohesive team. He clearly thinks of the team as his toy, and no one is allowed to share. Can you imagine Snyder in kindergarten?

Snyder has no respect for coaches or executives — but how could he? He thinks he can run the team without any formal training, so he doesn’t value the qualities a trained football person would bring to his organization. As a result, he wants to run the team his way and doesn’t hire the best and the brightest in any part of his football organization. Like the Raiders, the Redskins are under dictatorial rule.

Bringing back Joe Gibbs was Snyder’s way of saving his fan base and sending a message to the fans that he cares. But in reality, he never let Gibbs set up the front office and bring in his personnel people. Gibbs’ return was a great story. His teams finished four games below .500 with one playoff win in his four years. They did make the playoffs twice with Gibbs as head coach, and he brought a sense of credibility to the organization. From the outside, everyone around the NFL was waiting for Gibbs to take over the front office, but that day never came. Snyder never allows anyone, even Gibbs, to play with his toy.

Snyder is in a very dangerous spot with the incredible fan base of Redskins Nation. He will have to make some unselfish decisions, which seems to go against every principle he has demonstrated in his ownership tenure. Spending money on the coach is what Snyder loves to do, but giving him the power to run the team requires that Snyder share, and he’s not good at sharing. Honestly, do you think there are many top coaches who want to walk into Washington and deal with Snyder as the general manager? For the right amount of money, anyone will say yes, but it should come with a bold warning: “Taking this job may be hazardous to your reputation as a great coach — especially if the dynamic duo is still running the front office.”

Since Snyder hates to share, he might want to revisit these rules taught to all kindergarten kids before he makes his next move:

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren't yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life -- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup -- they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned -- the biggest word of all -- LOOK.

Stop being selfish and give the fans their team back. You’ll go from being vilified to being loved. It’s a much better way of life.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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