Were Peter Angelos and Dan Snyder Separated at Birth?

Tim SteelersFanCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2009

When I look at photos of Dan Snyder and Peter Angelos, for the life of me I cannot see a resemblance. There is none. 

In fact, their ages aren’t even close, with Angelos being 36 years senior to Snyder.

On the other hand, though, all the evidence suggests they must have been separated at birth, and somehow they have been unaware of their relation.

Each of these gentlemen bought a professional sports franchise in the D.C.-Baltimore metro area in the 1990s: In 1993, Peter Angelos purchased the Baltimore Orioles, along with another group of investors, for $173 Million. In 1999, Daniel Snyder purchased the Washington Redskins for $800 Million. 

Both are self-made and incredibly wealthy men. 

Peter Angelos began a law practice in Baltimore in 1961 representing labor unions before switching in the '80s to civil class-action suits. In 1982, he hit the lottery when representing a group of plaintiffs in an asbestos case, garnering a reputed $100 million in personal wealth. 

Angelos leap-frogged from this case to representing Maryland in a Fen-Phen case against Philip-Morris and Wyeth.

Daniel Snyder made his first million dollars by the age of 20 when, at the University of Maryland-College Park, he was leasing jets to college students going on Spring Break to Florida.  The business was run out of his father’s home with two leased phone lines. 

He exploded from there, eventually forming Snyder Communications with his sister, and he became the youngest CEO of a publicly traded firm at age 32 in 1996, a company he later sold to the French in excess of $2 billion.

Unfortunately, sharing a history of generating self-wealth isn’t all they have in common.  Both have gone on to ruin professional sports franchises in the D.C. market. 

In May of 2009, Sports Illustrated ranked the best and worst owners in sports.  Peter Angelos was rated the worst owner in Major League Baseball. Daniel Snyder was ranked the third-worst owner in the NFL.

Since purchasing the Baltimore Orioles, Peter Angelos has turned a once-proud baseball organization into a perpetual failure (by Orioles’ standards). The Orioles have made the playoffs twice in 17 seasons while sporting a .486 winning percentage and finishing below .500 for 11 straight seasons.

Similarly, Dan Snyder has ground the Washington Redskins into the bowels of mediocrity. Since purchasing the team, the Redskins have sported a 70-74 record (48.8%) and have appeared in the playoffs three times since 1999, never making it past the divisional round.

Both of these organizations were winning franchises with league titles and a history of consistent winning. The Orioles had won three World Series titles and six AL East Pennants while the Redskins had won three Super Bowls.

Each of these businessmen-turned-franchise-owners have lacked patience.  Both have a history of firing their respective coaches after two seasons. 

Since 1993, Peter Angelos has hired and fired managers faster than your local McDonald’s. 

He inherited Johnny Oates in 1993, who lasted two seasons before feeling the swing of the Angelos's axe. 

Apparently, Angelos never let the axe fall far from his shoulder. He’s had eight managers in 17 seasons.  When you consider Mike Hargrove lasted as manager for four seasons, that means Angelos ground through seven others in 13 years.

They say John Gruden has a thing for collecting QBs as a head coach. Daniel Snyder has had a thing for collecting head coaches, going through six in 10 seasons. 

Considering he gave Joe Gibbs four years of tenure, that means he went through the other five coaches in six seasons.

He gave the proven Marty Schottenheimer a single season to prove himself, showing little patience before trying the ‘ole-ball-coach experiment with Steve Spurrier.

He shocked the world last year by making Jim Zorn his head coach, a man who never held more than a quarterbacks coaching position.

Playing general manager in a sport they know little about has also been problematic for them. Let’s face it, they bought their way into professional sports in the same manner you and I might win an eBay auction. 

They were the highest bidders. This doesn’t mean they were the most qualified. Perhaps if they’d each have let smarter sports men than themselves make decisions on player acquisitions, trades, and coaches, it would have turned out better. Well, they haven’t.

Since Synder acquired the franchise, no team has spent more money on free agents than the Washington Redskins. I guess another way of saying this is no owner has wasted more money in the NFL on players than Dan Snyder. 

He spent almost $225 million for Adam Archuleta, Bruce Smith, LaVar Arrington, Deion Sanders, and Laveranues Coles. Despite the constant criticism of these terrible moves and over spending, this past season he went and shelled out another $162 million for Albert Haynesworth, Derrick Dockery, and DeAngelo Hall. 

Dan Snyder has shown a knack for making player decisions and controlling acquisitions—a poor knack.

Similarly, Peter Angelos has kept his fingers too deep in the player pie in Baltimore.  He reputedly has a habit of overriding his GMs, denying trades that were on the table, and otherwise stripping the GMs of all of their power. 

Angelos has had a hand in such amazing decisions as signing Albert Belle and Sammy Sosa, while letting notables such as B.J. Surhoff and Rafael Palmiero (in his prime) leave Baltimore. 

Unlike Snyder, Angelos has actually reduced spending over the years as owner of the Orioles.  In the late '90s, the Orioles were typically among the league leaders in payroll. 

The Orioles are now consistently below the median in payroll spending. In a sport where payroll has a strong influence on wins and losses, it appears Angelos doesn’t want to foot the financial expense for winning.

Perhaps if Peter Angelos had fought as hard to field a wining team as he fought the Expos move to Washington D.C., he wouldn’t be watching his Orioles suffer their (currently) 12th straight sub-.500 season. 

Perhaps if Dan Snyder had purchased an ounce of patience for himself when Schottenheimer was his coach or hadn’t fired Norv Turner when the team was 7-6 with three games to go in the season, he’d have found some early success—and learned that patience pays off.

Whatever it is with these guys, twins or not, they do share one other commonality.  Neither seems to learn from their mistakes. We see the same script played out year after year.


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