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It’s been 19 years since Daniel Snyder backed into the ownership of D.C.’s NFL team, and for the most part, it’s been a continual reign of error after error, leading to loss after loss and embarrassment after embarrassment from an owner who may still not know what he doesn’t know.
And yet, this year, there actually were a few signs that perhaps that terribly troubling nearly 20-year trend may have slightly turned a corner toward the proper direction, with Snyder and other team officials finally doing the right thing on several fronts.
After totally bungling their ability to keep Kirk Cousins—a fiasco that could have been avoided two years ago by signing him to a long-term contract—at least they had a positive Plan B to replace him when they acquired veteran quarterback Alex Smith.
Though Cousins is five years younger with far less wear and tear on his body, at least his replacement had a proven track record of winning and consistently advancing his previous team, the Kansas City Chiefs, to the postseason.
Doug Williams, the pioneering black quarterback who led the 1987 team to a Super Bowl victory, was mainly responsible for Smith’s acquisition. Williams is the team’s vice president for player personnel, and it would be refreshing if Snyder made another smart and proper move by naming him as the team’s general manager, the first African-American ever to hold that position with the franchise.
It’s not like Snyder has never once done the right thing.
One of the sweetest moves he’s ever made occurred earlier this year when the team announced its plan this fall to honor the men who helped get the Skins to that ’87 Super Bowl—the replacement players in a strike-marred season. Thirty years after the Super Bowl XXII was played in January, 1988, a 42-10 Washington victory over Denver, they’re finally going to get Super Bowl rings they so richly deserve.
Your remember the so-called “scab” team. When the real Skins went on strike after two games that year, a team of has-beens and never-weres was assembled because the NFL decided to keep playing the games. Those players went 3-0, including a dramatic victory over a Dallas Cowboys team with more than 20 regulars on the field, then went back to their real world lives when the strike ended.
The impetus for the decision to give them all rings surely came about as the direct result of a documentary about those replacement players by Los Angeles filmmaker John Dorsey. It aired last fall on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, and several of the replacements said they were still somewhat miffed that they never got a ring, valued at about $10,000 each back then.
Dorsey also interviewed John Kent Cooke, the son of then owner Jack Kent Cooke, on camera for the documentary. “They were terribly expensive,” John Cooke said of the decision not to award them rings. This from a man whose late father once owned the Chrysler Building in New York and left an estate of more than $800 million when he died in 1997.
Another nudge toward rectifying that wrong came in a review of that fine film on the front page of The Post’s Style section—written by yours truly. In an interview, Dorsey told me he thought it was a slight easily rectified.
“I’d hope the current management sees this film,” he said. “It would be a golden opportunity to give those guys rings. Do it in a halftime ceremony and close the door on it.”
And now, this fall, Snyder will do the right thing. And who knows, perhaps it will start a new trend in the woebegone franchise’s future fortunes, though there is still much more he can do, as well.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the club paid its cheerleaders a decent wage. Wouldn’t it be nice if the women hadn’t been asked to pose topless for a calendar on a photo shoot in Costa Rica, or be pimped out on that same trip to team sponsors who wanted a little arm candy at the bar later that night, according to a recent, well-sourced New York Times story.
And finally, wouldn’t it be nice if Snyder once and for all made the decision to change the team’s offensive and derogatory name. It’s probably not going to happen, and the 19-year reign of error will go on and on and on.
Photo by Keith Allison.