Leonard Shapiro, Sports Columnist

Snyder Should Speak to the Media About Team

Dan Snyder
Dan Snyder refuses to talk to the local media, leaving everyone without answers to several tough questions facing the franchise. (Joel Richardson - The Washington Post)
By Leonard Shapiro
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; 12:02 PM

With the Washington Redskins' 2006 season spiraling downward with each passing week, WTEM Radio's 'Sports Reporters' show keeps re-playing an angry phone call from a clearly outraged fan who dialed in to a recent post-game show and went off on team owner Daniel Snyder. The rant described the owner as a "megalomaniac" running an organization that, like a dead fish, stinks from the head down and keeps ripping off the football fans of Washington with a product hardly befitting the second highest ticket prices in the NFL.

In many ways, the caller was probably speaking for many Redskins followers who surely by now must be wondering why they still bother to spend hours in beltway traffic jams before and after games, investing hundreds and even thousands of dollars on seats, parking, $6 hot dogs and $10 brewskies to watch the worst team Snyder's money can buy constantly fail to live up to expectations.

But don't expect Daniel Snyder, a man who, ironically, made his fortune in the communications business, to step up to the plate and take a little heat, or even a single question from the media. Snyder has declined all media interview requests during the football season for years and hardly does any interviews in the offseason either, with the exception of a blinders-on friendly puff piece in a recent edition of Washingtonian.

Unlike Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, a stand-up guy in good times and often in bad (e-mail Ted and he e-mails right back), you're not going to hear Snyder on any local sports or news talk shows -- including those on his own Red Zebra group of Snyder-owned radio stations -- or fielding questions from the anchors at Channels 4, 5, 7 or 9.

Unlike Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who has been answering questions on the air and returning phone calls from local reporters for most of the last four decades, Snyder simply won't talk to the people who cover his team in the local print or broadcast media.

Why is that?

Surprise, surprise, Snyder wouldn't comment.

Karl Swanson, his long-time spokesman, said, "after the first season, he discovered that anything he said relating to the team had a disproportionate amount of scrutiny and interpretation and he felt that he has people who are the appropriate people to talk about the team. Football questions belong to the coaches. If Dan talks about it, it triggers the idea that he's involved in the football operation. Frankly, given that there has been a view that says he's meddling, it's best he doesn't say anything."

Oh please. He's not involved in the football operation? Excuse me, who hired the coach? Who won't hire a general manager? Who approved $2 million contracts for the two coordinators? Who goes on recruiting trips to sign free agent stiffs who love to take his money and then don't run anywhere except to the bank?

If nothing else, wouldn't it be nice to hear from the owner that he's still got complete faith in Joe Gibbs and his ability to turn the team around and win some football games over the second half of the season?

Said Swanson, "any remarks he has on the coach are between him and the coach."

How about questions on ticket prices (second only behind New England, which wins Super Bowls), on the high cost of parking, on the incessant blaring artificial noise and moronic public address announcer in the stadium, on relieving traffic congestion on the beltway, on the inability of some fans to find the game on any of Snyder's three low wattage radio stations?

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