There is a disturbing background and context to this penalty. It feels like the culmination of years of operating in a certain way. Obviously, Snyder has not built up a reservoir of goodwill among his fellow owners, despite the profitability of his team. Also, why does he always end up in these situations? Why is there always some misunderstanding involving the spirit of an agreement?
Surely there was a way for Snyder to clear some reasonable cap space without so incensing others. This bungle is as costly any of his overpriced free agent misjudgments; it comes just as they gave up multiple picks in exchange for the right to draft a franchise quarterback, probably Robert Griffin III, and once again hampers their ability to build, though Tuesday’s opening of free agency yielded some promising returns. Snyder is like a huge costly lien against the team that prevents it from getting ahead. Call it the Snyder tax.
The Post Sports Live crew debates whether or not the Redskins spent too much to acquire the second pick in the draft from the St. Louis Rams.
Snyder can argue that he did nothing technically wrong all he wants. But he didn’t do anything smart either. There was nothing astute about this exercise. Whether Snyder likes it or not, he needs other owners to bless his practices. The NFL is a private association, and if owners act as adversaries on the field, they also act as partners to some extent. The mature owners know when to act as which. As a group they have historically subscribed to the philosophy that a certain competitive balance is the healthiest thing for all.
Instead Snyder used the uncapped year to help himself and hurt others, clumsily dumping money in hopes of erasing past mistakes and taking a shortcut to the future. He sent a message that he was preparing to bid high for a whole bunch of shiny new free agents, making the other owners who want those players bitterly unhappy.
You have to cooperate with other people at times. None of us succeeds alone, and even our competitors have to play a certain role in our success, if only by not jamming a stick in our wheels. When you try to get a leg up while everybody around you is standing still, they resent it. And they will get you for it.
For Sally Jenkins’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/jenkins.