Friendly advice for Redskins owner Dan Snyder: Please get help

Since purchasing the Washington Redskins in 1999, Dan Snyder has provoked heated emotions in the team's fans.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2011; 7:43 PM

When a family member, friend or professional colleague seems to suffer from delusions and act in self-destructive ways, the proper thing to do is intervene. Go see a therapist, you say. Or maybe try yoga? Just get help.

That's where we stand in the Washington region right now regarding Redskins owner Dan Snyder. He's a part of our family, an important part, for as long as he owns the team.

And his latest move, suing City Paper for defamation, leaves little doubt that he could use some help.

The suit, over a cover story in November, was self-defeating in multiple ways. Like any public figure, Snyder must overcome sizable legal obstacles to win in court, given the media's First Amendment rights. Fans have derided the suit. Even a rabbi told me that he didn't buy Snyder's claim that City Paper's cover illustration looked anti-Semitic.

I am left thinking that Snyder's childish needs for self-justification and revenge are overpowering what should be mature judgments (in his mid-40s) about how a prominent, wealthy, powerful sports team owner should behave.

The fact is, the guy needs some class. Shall we ask fans to contribute to a "help Dan Snyder grow up" charitable fund? He hardly needs the money, but it'd be a way to make the point.

Snyder's self-centered behavior and apparent lack of realism are reflected in the ways he has mismanaged the team. He has been too involved in personnel decisions, which he should have left to experienced football professionals. He has overspent on players who had gaudy reputations but were past their prime.

"He's run a historically great sports franchise into the ground. He's made terrible decisions, [and] he can't take the criticism," said Tony Disabatino, 27, one of several Redskins fans who denounced Snyder on Thursday evening at the sports-oriented Cleveland Park Bar and Grill in Northwest Washington. "Unfortunately, we're stuck with this guy, some juvenile."

Looking at the lawsuit, let's start with the provocative charge that the illustration represented "anti-Semitic imagery." It was a photo of Snyder defaced with scribbles giving him horns, bushy eyebrows, a mustache and goatee.

I thought it made him look like a devil. It seemed appropriate, if silly, for an article described in the headline as "an encyclopedia of the owner's many failings." It didn't occur to me that it could be seen as anti-Semitic.

Rabbi Danny Zemel of Temple Micah in Northwest agreed with me.

"I don't think this is anti-Semitic. I think it's highly juvenile," Zemel said. If the paper had set out to do something anti-Semitic, he said, it would have given Snyder "a large nose, a bigger kind of beard, a hat, to give it a horrible, medieval rabbi look."

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