Vinny Cerrato says Daniel Snyder’s defense of the Redskins name goes back to his father


(2008 photo by John McDonnell / TWP)

“Who’s the one person whose transcribed opinion on the Redskins name issue would finally convince every single D.C. Sports Bog reader to give up on this Web site and use any gained time to better themselves by reading ‘The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,’ which, let’s be honest, we all kind of skimmed — if that — back when we were studying Modern American Intellectualism?” I recently thought to myself.

“Vinny Cerrato,” I immediately answered.

Only here’s the thing. Vinny Cerrato has talked about the name issue at least twice in recent weeks, and he actually kind of was interesting. Certainly it seems as though he’s thought about the issue more than many of the pundits who’ve weighed in.

“I know Dan Snyder very well,” Cerrato recently told Boston’s The Sports Hub. “And he is fighting this, and he’s against this, and he doesn’t believe what people are saying….It goes back to his childhood. It goes back to his dad. It is deep with him, why that name means so much. And then with Bruce Allen, his dad was the coach, so  it means something to him. So I think they will fight it to the end, and Dan has made those comments….It almost now is like Dan vs. the politicians. It’s not the fan base; it’s a fight amongst the politicians and Dan Snyder.”

The hosts then asked Cerrato whether Snyder would make or lose money in a post-Redskins landscape.

“It’s definitely not about the money with Dan,” Cerrato said. “Absolutely not. Because you know what, in the big picture, I don’t know that they make a bunch of money selling jerseys, because they have to split that 31 ways. The money that they make is with suites and all that; you don’t have to share that… So this is all about principle. This is about his dad. This is about his childhood….

“It’s not about the money,” Cerrato said later. “Dan’s got a ton of money. He’ll fight this. I said this when this first started a year ago or whatever, I said the only way I see him eventually changing the name is if — IF — he gets a new stadium out of it, downtown, where old RFK was. And he builds a stadium bigger than [Jerry Jones’s], which he would do, bigger and better than Jerry’s. He gets a Super Bowl. All that. I said that’s the way that maybe he would change the name. Getting the property, getting the land, getting a good deal from the city to make concessions to change the name. I don’t know. But to me, he’s going to continue to fight this. I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but he’s visited these reservations. They’ve done a lot of due diligence about this to justify their case of keeping the name. I know Dan. He’s not giving up….

“You know where it hits them? If sponsors start pulling out,” Cerrato later said. “If league sponsors start to pull out, then it’s hurting 31 other teams. Then other owners will start to get involved, then the league will get involved. If Dan starts losing major sponsors, then you’re really losing money.”

Cerrato was also asked whether the name was ever a topic of discussion around Redskins Park when he worked there.

“Never even came up amongst workers, coaches, players,” he said. “Never came up. Never came up. And when I would speak to groups, speak to Redskins fans around, never heard about the Redskins name, [or] people being upset. It was not a big deal. Now over the last year it’s become a big deal. Why?…I think it’s because a lot of the politicians have gotten involved and they’ve made it a bigger deal. You get some Native Americans coming out, but if it’s bothering some people, I think like Roger Goodell said, I think he said it best. If it irritates some people, if it bothers some people, then you should talk about it. You should look into all the facts and get all the facts, and then make the proper decision.”

Cerrato also appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Phil Savage right after the trademark decision came down, when he sounded similar themes. Savage asked Cerrato about what would happen next in this debate.

“You know what, I was there like 10 years, and I really never heard much complaining at that time,” Cerrato said. “It did not affect me one way or another. I think this, I think that if there’s a section of people that are offended, I think you need to listen and then make proper decisions when you hear [both sides] of the story.

“I know Dan’s side of the story,” Cerrato went on. “It goes back to his childhood. It really goes back to his dad. That’s the big thing. His dad was a historian and wrote books on it and that kind of stuff. So it’s very deep with Dan. So for him to change, it’s got to be very significant. People have got to have a very legitimate reason for him to change. My guess is, he’ll do everything in his power not to change, that’s how important it is to him.”

Murray asked Cerrato if he thought Snyder would have taken less criticism had he been less adamant in his defense, had he appeared more willing to listen.

“My guess is in his mind he’s done that by creating a foundation for the Native American Indians, going and visiting all these people,” Cerrato said. “I would think that in his mind, he’s done that. And apparently in everybody else’s mind, he hasn’t done that. I think what happened is that the politicians, the 50 senators sent them a letter. And they kind of gave it back right to them. And I don’t know that you want to get into a fight with the politicians, and I think that’s what it’s turned into.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · July 2, 2014