Washington Redskins' Owner Dan Snyder: Love Him or Hate Him?

Robert JohnsonCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2008

The list of people who hate Dan Snyder is still longer than that of people who are starting to come around to him, but not by much.


Some people cling to their hatred for all things Snyder as if it were a religion. Some just cannot bring themselves to forgive him for things he’s done in the past. They will readily admit they are still Redskins fans, but will simply say they just don't like Dan Snyder.


Everyone has their own reasons for hating Dan Snyder. For some it's because of the $8 beers at the games or the high-priced jerseys sold at "fan appreciation days." Others have just never forgiven him for steering this team away from all things "Jack Kent Cooke." (The sainted former owner of the Washington Redskins).


Has Snyder made some mistakes? Certainly, even I (the optimist of optimists) must concede that.


But has he learned from his mistakes? Maybe it’s time for some fans and the media to do some conceding.


Many fans began to forgive Snyder when he lured Hall of Famer and beloved head coach Joe Gibbs out of retirement. Snyder allowed Gibbs all the latitude in the world to select his own coaching staff and players.


Many still grumbled that Snyder was still his old self, and that the players were still his influence. Even with Gibbs touting the recruitment of players like Mark Brunell as his own choice, fans and the media weren't buying it.


Snyder had simply turned Gibbs into yet another “yes man,” a puppet to do his bidding and force the fans into accepting his secret behind-the-scenes player selections.


Yet these past two offseasons have seen a marked difference from the days of old. Vinny Cerrato (a man nearly equally as vilified as Snyder himself, who has also been caled a puppet) was finally allowed to do what made him so successful in San Francisco: draft players.


Until two years ago, I didn’t even know who Vinny Cerrato was. He was simply painted as a business partner of Snyder’s by the media, and a minion of Snyder by the fan message boards.


I never knew Cerrato had been with the 49ers, much less that he had been there long enough to have seen them win a Super Bowl. I never knew that he was the guy who first selected a little known wide receiver named Terrell Owens in the third round of the ’96 NFL draft, much less players like Ricky Watters and Dana Stubblefield.


With everyone talking about how Snyder needed more people around him to make "football" decisions, I had simply assumed Cerrato was just a golfing buddy given a position of prominence based on their friendship.


The past two offseasons have shown a preference for the draft over the acquisition of high priced free agents. They have shown that building team chemistry is more important than acquiring a guy from another team based on statistics.


For proof you need look no further than the recent Jason Taylor deal. The Redskins had committed to keeping Phillip Daniels as their starter. They could have picked up Taylor in March, and sacrificed a slew of draft picks for him to replace Daniels, but it wasn't until Daniels got hurt that they decided to darken Miami’s doorstep.


Even when they did make the deal with Miami, they gave up a modest second round pick, and a sixth rounder in the following year's draft.


The old way would have simply been to throw a first round pick to Miami and be done with the whole affair. Taylor would also have been showered with a roster-clearing multi-million dollar blockbuster deal.


Can anyone even remember the last $80 gazillion contract the Redskins gave out? In recent years it has been about careful contract negotiations with most players accepting less money to stay with the team and help them with salary cap room.


Even with the re-retirement of Coach Gibbs, the easy thing to do for the old regime would be to put Williams in charge, or maybe quickly lock up Steve Mariucci or Jim Fassel, but the Redskins went with a bold choice and picked a rookie to head up the most important position on their team…head coach.


Jim Zorn is not an unheard of scenario. While the Eagles may not have won that elusive Super Bowl yet, they seem to have had some success with their quarterbacks-coach -turned-head-coach in Andy Reid (who was also a QB coach for none-other-than Mike Holmgren).


Sure, Snyder's detractors have an answer for everything. Some "hidden" conspiracy to any move he makes. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that the reason Zorn was hired is because he'd make a better "yes man" than Williams.


Maybe it’s time to accept that Snyder isn’t the evil puppet-master everyone thinks he is. Maybe it’s time for some people to come around to the fact that a self-made billionaire can learn how to run a football team. Maybe it's time to recognize that Snyder is one of the top three owners in the league for more than just his ability to crank out money.


Will he still make mistakes? Sure, every owner does. After all, they are all human.


Nit-pick all you like, but things in 2008 are much different than they were in Y2K; they are better.