And so Danny Snyder's "Reign of Terror" marches on into Jack Kent Cooke Stad -- oops, Redskins Stadium -- for Sunday's home opener, leaving carnage everywhere. The Washington Redskins haven't played a single official game yet, and already their young owner has fired the general manager, fired the left tackle, threatened to fire the coach if he doesn't win this season, or this month, or maybe even this Sunday, changed the name of the stadium and the site it sits on, and chased the skirts of some of the most glamorous players in the NFL. In the past month Snyder has pursued Barry Sanders, Jamal Anderson, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Randall McDaniel, Rob Moore and Joey Galloway.
You sure it was Hurricane Dennis we just experienced, not Hurricane Danny?
Charley Casserly is gone. Joe Patton is gone -- fired for all intents and purposes after allowing a sack in the first preseason game, then forced to twist in the wind like a scarecrow through August. Norv Turner could be gone almost any time. The owner is on record as saying, "There are no guarantees in life," apparently not even that Norv will be here to pick up his dry cleaning, unless he gets same-day service. The name "Jack Kent Cooke Stadium" is off the letterhead and out of the media reports. "Big Jack" beer is gone. Even "Raljon" is gone, the name Jack Kent Cooke invented to honor his sons, Ralph and John. (It reminds me of a line even E.R. Shipp, the Post ombudsman, might think is funny: "It's a good thing his sons weren't named Peter and Enis.")
Who's the star of the Redskins so far?
Brad Johnson? Champ Bailey? Darrell Green?
Oh, please. It's Danny Snyder.
It seems clear Snyder wants to be perceived as a tough, decisive guy -- and he doesn't care whom he threatens. (I fully expect him to come to The Post and threaten to fire me.) He wants to be Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole damn town. Snyder apparently thinks he can growl his team into winning.
Weren't you stunned at how quickly Snyder changed the name of the stadium? I assumed he'd wait until he sold the naming rights, and not take an interim action that looks impetuous. Considering Snyder is an avid, lifelong Redskins fan it figured he'd be more reverential toward the name of the man who produced three Super Bowl champions. And what a jaw-dropper when Snyder called The Big Jack "a fixer-upper"! Talk about a right hand to the labonza. Man, is this kid full of himself. (Though who wouldn't be, at 34, self-made, with enough money to buy a team for $800 million? If I had that kind of money, I'd buy some grain silo like North Dakota, and put my own puss on the state flag.)
But after thinking about it, I saw the light. Stay with me now. Here are a few words we could fairly use to describe Danny Snyder so far: imperious; outrageous; blustery. Does that describe anybody in Redskins lore you know?
Yes, Jack Kent Cooke!
Had the situation been reversed, and had Cooke bought the team from Snyder, The Squire would have been up on a ladder taking a chisel to Snyder's name -- well, he'd have had his driver up there anyway. The Squire reveled in being called "tough" and "demanding," and a particularly choice 11-letter word beginning in "s" and ending in "h," referring to one's parentage. According to folks who were told by those present at Snyder's first address to the team, that is the exact word Snyder used to describe himself.
Isn't it clear -- Danny Snyder is the son The Squire never had! He's the Baby Squire!
(Somebody call Coco and tell her to come back, all is forgiven.)
Snyder has the heat turned up the way John Kent Cooke never did. John was a sweet, quiet guy who all the other owners wanted -- because they could beat his brains out. John was milk to his father's vinegar. John would have let Norv and Charley go 0-16 and retained them.
Jack wouldn't have.
Danny won't. If the Redskins start 0-7 this year, they'll be on their second coach -- maybe their third.
The key to their season will be at quarterback -- as it has been through all of the seasons since Turner arrived from Dallas with the reputation of an offensive Mr. Goodwrench. Turner has tinkered with John Friesz, Heath Shuler, Gus Frerotte, Jeff Hostetler and Trent Green without getting to the playoffs.
This year's quarterback is fragile Brad Johnson, who is still upright as of this morning. Johnson has a nice arm and a papier mache leg that requires him to take more three-day weekends than Johnny Carson. Patton is gone because he gave a rusher a free shot at Johnson. To protect against a similar occurrence during the rest of the preseason schedule, Johnson played approximately four minutes per game. Johnson probably has no idea the Redskins even play a second half. If Johnson actually makes it into the third quarter on Sunday, he'll need a road map and a dog.
I'd like to think if the Redskins were defending champions Snyder wouldn't be turning over the tables quite this way. Who knows? But they were awful last year -- worse, they were dull. There was no reason to watch them. Into that vacuum steps Danny M. Snyder, and happily he gives us a flamboyance the Redskins haven't had since The Squire died; some sound and fury, some much needed bluster and bull.
It doesn't always work. Snyder has chased after stars, and so far gotten none. He looks like a kid flipping through a football card collection, saying. "Got him, got him, want him, got him." He ended up with Irving Fryar, who is only slightly younger than Irving Thalberg. Maybe by this time next week Vinny Cerrato will be talking to Lance Alworth.
But the urgency Snyder transmitted to the Redskins through all his shouted threats about getting rid of fat guys and malcontents paid off in the preseason games. Preseason games mean nothing. (Oh, yeah? Go tell that to Bubby Brister.) But Snyder wanted to win the games, and Turner needed to. With that, and Turner's good record coaching against Dallas, one might feel guardedly optimistic about the home opener Sunday. Snyder can't fire his coach at 1-0, can he?