But as the Redskins celebrate their first NFC East division title since the 1999 season, Snyder’s first at the helm of the franchise he adored as a kid, and prepare to host the Seattle Seahawks in a playoff game at FedEx Field on Sunday, a certain air of serenity, an overarching sense of pro-football normalcy, has settled over the team and its owner.
Snyder and the Redskins no longer are the NFL’s leading soap opera, and the biggest reason why may be how the owner himself is conducting business.
Snyder, 48, who long has had a reputation for being meddlesome and overbearing in his relationship with his coaches and his team, has remained in the background, associates say, and has allowed Shanahan, with Allen’s help, to plot the team’s course and make the decisions on the football side of the operation.
The Redskins are said to be giving consideration to negotiating a contract extension with Shanahan, an unusual state of affairs for a team that so regularly has been sorting through the pieces of a just-completed broken season and searching for a new head coach at this time of the year. The helipad at Redskins Park sits unused these days, an unintentional monument to a time in the not-so-distant past when grand entrances were the Redskins’ way, along with grand failures.
There is plenty of credit for the team’s success to go around, so much so that the long-running characterization of Snyder as the most intrusive NFL owner this side of the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones no longer seems so apt. Even the general manager that Snyder ousted in 1999, Charley Casserly, says Snyder merits his fair share of the plaudits.
“I think he deserves a lot of credit,” Casserly said. “He hired Bruce Allen as the general manager to run the front office. He hired Mike Shanahan as the coach to run the football team. They’re both proven winners. He’s allowed them to do their jobs. They’ve turned the franchise around and made it a winner again. It starts with ownership hiring the right people, letting them do their jobs and giving them the means to do it.”
Snyder’s change in approach, associates say, came about because he finally tired of all the losing — and of being excoriated by fans and the media for it.
“He’s had growing pains,” said one person familiar with the team’s internal dynamics. “He wanted instant gratification. He only wanted to win and, ‘Why couldn’t it happen to me?’ I think he got some bad advice along the way. He had some knee-jerk reactions. . . . He’s the kind of guy who wants it so bad. It comes across the wrong way.”