The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

This new Daniel Snyder seems an awful lot like the old one

Daniel and Tanya Snyder helped unveil the franchise's new name in February. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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Daniel Snyder is a sneak. It’s his unmistakable personal signature. He always acts furtively, whether he’s trying to backstab a coach he’s disenchanted with or silence a woman who refuses to be a sex mannequin. Dodging a congressional subpoena and refusing to publicly answer questions about the gropey lewdness in his workplace while pressing blame for it on others are familiar tactics. Shadow campaigns are Snyder’s perennial style, and they’re a current event.

Whatever oiled-up business Snyder claimed to be conducting while sunning on his yacht deck off the coast of France, his attorney insisted it was important enough to justify flouting the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s schedule. Snyder has declined to appear at hearings into his longtime clammily abusive office culture, even remotely. This alone is evidence of unrepentant scorn for the victims and the inquiry.

A Snyder spokesperson said dismissively before last month’s hearing that mistreatment of women at his franchise was “addressed years ago.” The problem with this assertion is that it’s worse than contemptuous; it’s false. The day Snyder addresses the problem is the day he’ll have to admit he’s the source of it. His reaction to every revelation is not true contrition but fresh retaliation — and ongoing obstruction.

Daniel Snyder was not ‘hands off’ as an NFL owner, witnesses told committee

Snyder and his lackey, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, have leaned hard into the contention that the team’s problems, while once egregious, are long over. Goodell’s testimony to the committee in June was a lot of platitudinal verbal litter. The Washington Commanders have jettisoned the leering cruds who made up Snyder’s inner circle and replaced them with sober, empathetic professionals such as Jason Wright, and Snyder was fined $10 million. Therefore, all in Snyder’s house is now supposedly cleaned and sanitized. “There has been a substantial transformation of the team’s culture, leadership and human resources practices,” Goodell said.

What Boy Scouts.

What devious double talk. If, as Snyder has claimed in public statements, his lone failing was that he was too hands-off rather than handsytry to contain your convulsive laughter — then why has he worked so feverishly behind the curtain to compile opposition research on the legion of accusers? Because he personally led this fetid, noisome, pawing frat house, that’s why.

If, as Snyder insists, his main concern is to cultivate a workplace in which employees now feel safe, then why has he combed through personal phone records of accusers like some clandestine black bag op? Presumably because it’s at home where he wants them to feel threatened. Ex-cheerleaders — who he once proposed serve as quasi-escorts — report that he sent private investigators to their doorsteps as recently as the spring of last year. What a changed man.

If, as Snyder declares, he has embraced this opportunity to learn from all the mistakes of the past, then why has he legally hounded those he believes talked about his behavior with Washington Post reporters, without whose work no one ever would have known about the lurid pervy penchants in his building? As U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter ruled in March 2021, Snyder’s motions in a defamation suit were really court abuses meant to “burden and harass individuals formerly associated with the Washington Football Team who may have acted as sources” for revelations.

As former team executive Jason Friedman described Snyder’s longtime methods for dealing with employees: “Obey first. If you don’t obey, intimidate. If you still don’t obey, terminate. And then if you didn’t go away and you tried to sue the team for wrongful termination, it would be to fight back. If that didn’t work, buy off.”

Daniel Snyder is resisting subpoena, House oversight committee says

The coverups, private dicks, badgering lawyers, statements that promise one thing followed by the opposite: These are behaviors that happened in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and beyond. This is not “years ago” history — it’s recent. But it is a wearying well-worn pattern to those who have chronicled Snyder’s cowardly and covert nastiness for two decades, with his continual false “Daniel Snyder has learned from his mistakes” iterations.

How many times now has Snyder claimed to publicly cede authority and pretended to be hands-off for the health of the team? Only to tyrannize behind the scenes and invariably whack others for his mistakes — coaches, general managers, executives by the score finding themselves slurred and slimed and used as human shields. He is an inveterate loser who exhibits all the forthrightness of a garden snail.

Snyder’s fey conduct — and his clear lack of respect for a woman at a dais, committee chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) — reminds you of nothing so much as a line the great sportswriter John Schulian once wrote about another sneering, shrinking little martinet of the sports world, Billy Martin: He is like “a rat studying to be a mouse.”

“Mr. Snyder has not been held accountable,” Maloney has asserted, correctly. “His refusal to testify sends a clear message that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean with the American people.”

That’s because there’s never any such thing as a cleaned house so long as he’s still in it.