Redskins' RG3-Less Fan Letter May Spark New NFL 'Truth in Advertising' Trend

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterFebruary 11, 2015

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Season-ticket renewal letters are like love letters. It's what you don't say in them that reveals your true feelings.

The Washington Redskins sent a pep-talk mash note to members of their "Premium Club," listing all of the players and coaches who fans could look forward to rooting for in 2015. "Head coach Jay Gruden, new general manager Scot McCloughan and defensive coordinator Joe Barry will lead a nucleus of Ryan Kerrigan, DeSean Jackson, plus Pro Bowlers Trent Williams and Alfred Morris. The Redskins are poised to rebound next season!"

Robert Griffin III was conspicuously absent from the list.

Last week was a slow NFL news period outside of New England and Seattle, so naturally we took notice. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser called it "a KABOOM" deal on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post, whose brief blog post started the avalanche, tried to pump the brakes.

"There was not really anything surprising about this letter, once you actually thought about it. Because the Redskins last season benched Robert Griffin III for Colt McCoy," he wrote. Steinberg repeated that Griffin was benched for McCoy several times in his article, for emphasis.

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 20: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins passes head coach Jay Gruden as he heads off the field in the first half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField on December 20, 2014 in Landover, Ma
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Fair enough: Griffin got benched last year in favor of a quarterback who wouldn't make the ideal centerpiece for a marketing campaign and is a free agent, anyway. But including Griffin's name on a list that singles out Barry, an obscure new coordinator whose strongest premium-ticket selling point is that he is not named Jim Haslett, would cost the Redskins zero dollars and involve zero future obligations.

It may be a simple fact that the Redskins want to distance themselves from Griffin, but facts should never get in the way of a good promotional campaign. The message is clear: Players must earn their spots on that form letter.

Griffin, it should be noted, is still the cover boy for the Redskins' premium seating webpage. What we have here is a case of marketing confusion. But then, we should be lucky owner Daniel Snyder did not order someone to airbrush Griffin out of the photo in favor of, say, Drew Stanton.

The Redskins' fan letter represents a new "truth in advertising" approach to season-ticket mass mailings, a policy we do not recommend for your personal life as Valentine's Day approaches.

If teams have really decided that honesty is the best policy when soliciting season-ticket dollars, we may start seeing some very unusual form letters on official team stationary this year:

Philadelphia Eagles

Dear Season Ticket Holder,

I am Chip Kelly, and I am now in charge.

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 26:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles watches from the sidelines during the second quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I control the offense. I control the roster. I control the season-ticket promotions. Howie Roseman only has authority over letter-folding and stamp-licking. Howie: You lick stamps from top to bottom, not side-to-side, buddy. I also expect each letter to be completed in under 27 seconds, with no breaks in-between. Don't make me call Jeff Lurie and take you off this project!

There will be some changes now that I have complete control over the fan experience. The following is your mandatory tailgating schedule for a 1 p.m. kickoff:

9 a.m.: Tailgate lots open.

9:07 a.m.: Tailgate lots close and lock. Please study the "no-huddle entry from Pattison Avenue" brochure enclosed, and be ready to follow the signs (with pictures of Elmo, the Philly Phanatic and a duck eating a watermelon, which correspond to that week's parking configurations) that parking lot attendants display as you enter.

9:15 a.m.: Piped-in tailgate music begins. Car stereos and boom boxes are forbidden. Ear buds will be confiscated. Hope you like Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.

9:30 a.m.: First beverage. Approved cucumber-avocado energy shakes only. No mass-market domestic beers, please. Mass-market domestic beers yield mass-market domestic results. I don't know what that means, either. But it makes you think, doesn't it?

10:00 a.m.: Tailgate session 1: play catch with your kids.

10:07 a.m.: Tailgate session 2: beanbag toss.

10:13 a.m.: Tailgate session 3: approved cucumber-avocado energy shake pong. Note that ping-pong balls are not approved in cucumber-avocado energy shakes.

10:22 a.m.: Snack break: one vegan cheesesteak (tofu cheese substitute) on a wheat bun. An air horn will sound at completion of the snack break.

The rest of the tailgate schedule will be released once a bottled-water sponsor meets my demands.

Please keep in mind that this schedule optimizes fan fun and is based on the latest research on season-ticket holder enjoyment and satisfaction. If you would prefer a looser, more casual experience, the Meadowlands are just 90 minutes up the turnpike.

Send your season-ticket checks by Tuesday, March 10, or else you go to the bottom of the list. Write legibly; squinting is inefficient.

Atlanta Falcons

Great news, Season Ticket Holder!

The era of losing games because of baffling fourth-quarter coaching errors is over, because the Falcons just hired a coach away from the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks!

Dan Quinn brings a new attitude with him from Seattle. Falcons defenders will practice on real tackling dummies this season. No more preschool pinatas!

New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan arrives with some great new ideas for Matt Ryan. Team management has been texting Shanahan some of our own ideas for weeks, and he sounds really open to suggestions. He says he already sees us as father figures!

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  A general view as the the TCU Horned Frogs play the Ole Miss Rebels during the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The new stadium is just two years away, and we know you are already exploring financing and mortgage options for personal seat licenses. But that doesn't mean the Falcons will skimp on the Georgia Dome experience in 2015.

The artificial crowd noise speakers have been removed from the seat headrests, so no more mysterious migraines! Also, per NFL rules, we can no longer pump artificial circus odors, allergen particulates or Africanized honey bees into the stadium to provide a competitive edge to your Falcons. Judging by the sorry state of the NFC South, however, we can continue to pump in artificial playoff implications next December!

With Quinn, Shanahan, Ryan and whichever defenders survive what will likely be one of the greatest roster purges in decades, next year's Falcons are sure to flirt with .500. So buy your ticket packages now!

Also, if any of you know Tony Gonzalez's home phone number, let him know that his old locker is still available, cap space is not an issue and so on. Thanks.

Cleveland Browns

Dear loyal, caring, understanding, patient Season Ticket Holder,

We are so, so sorry.

It's hard to even begin writing this letter. We are not even sure who we can promote in an effort to get you to write us a check.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 30:  Fans for the Cleveland Browns watch the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns warm up before the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Our offensive superstar has been suspended for a year. Our top quarterback prospect is in rehab. Our top executive is under fire for texting play-call suggestions to the coaches during games. Our offensive coordinator left because…well, read the previous three sentences. Our hard-working, local-hero journeyman quarterback is a free agent who sounds eager to escape this mess. Our star tight end also wants out.

So who do we promote to get you excited about seeing us again? Justin Gilbert? No, he was a disappointment last year, too.

Can you imagine? Our top draft pick got stuck behind Pierre Desir, a fourth-round pick from Lindenwood University, and he does not even register as one of our top five disappointments. We could brag about the two No. 1 picks we possess, but the last four players we selected with two first-round picks were Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, so no.

We need you, fans. The Browns may not be the most successful team, exciting team or properly run team, but we are desperate. Come to the stadium. Let us know that everything is OK. Validate us.

Don't leave us the way everyone else is leaving us, because we just don't know if we could handle it.

Ask about our new ticket promotion: the 2015 pity plan. We cannot guarantee you won't be sorry that you did.

San Francisco 49ers

Dear Season Ticket Holder,

I am Aloysius J. Digglebottom. Last year, I was assistant vice deputy manager of team website spellchecking, but Mr. York and Mr. Baalke, in their unbounded benevolence and wisdom, promoted me to chief of promotional letters. I will do my best to perform as an extension of their inerrable will.

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 15:  Jim Tomsula (C) stands with San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York (R) and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke following a press conference at Levi's Stadium on January 15, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. The San Francisco 49ers a
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The 49ers are humbled to enter an exciting new era of obedience and acquiescence. With Jim Tomsula, Geep Chryst and Eric Mangini promoted from the depths of the coaching staff into new roles, this year's 49ers brain trust promises to do everything possible to appease Mr. York and Mr. Baalke, including maybe winning football games.

Stars like Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis are committed to an offseason program of supplication and obsequiousness, lest they be ousted as part of the purge in the wake of he who I dareth not name.

Your 2015 San Francisco 49ers will toe the line, know their roles, respect the chain of command, speak when they are spoken to and do all of the other things that lead to Super Bowls. Through rigid submission to authority, we will vanquish the hated Seahawks.

Mr. York and Mr. Baalke remind you that it is your obligation as a fan to support the team with season-ticket purchases. After all, you can be easily replaced.

New England Patriots

Dear Season Ticket Holder,

Mary Sue sat in Gillette Stadium and waited for the first Patriots preseason game to start. The stadium was only three-quarters full for the exhibition, and Mary Sue wondered if her season-ticket purchase was a wise one. After all, the Patriots were coming off a Super Bowl victory: What could they possibly do for an encore?

A tall, handsome man sat next to Mary Sue. She recognized him immediately. "Rob Gronkowski? What are you doing here in Section 318? Shouldn't you be preparing for the game?"

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 4:  Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski yells to fans during the New England Patriots victory parade on February 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

"It's the first preseason game, you silly goose," Gronkowski said softly, his blue eyes piercing through Mary Sue's throwback Tedy Bruschi corset and into her heart. "I don't have to play. I am here to…reward…loyal season-ticket holders."

Gronkowski swept Mary Sue into his powerful arms. Soon, she was nuzzling against the thickly muscled neck of the mighty Super Bowl hero. "But…but my husband," Mary Sue breathlessly objected.

Gronkowski pressed a manly finger to Mary Sue's pursed lips. "Shhh," he said. "Don't be so heteronormative. I transcend traditional gender divisions. All Patriots fans desire me, regardless of orientation or marital status, for I am Gronkowski. Now whisper my name."

"Ooooh, Gronkowski," Mary Sue purred as her lips met his. She did not worry that her husband, still in the nacho line, might not approve, or might approve too much. She also did not worry about the cost of season tickets. Patriots season tickets, she thought through a haze of blissful arousal, are not just about entertainment. They provide deep, deep satisfaction.

Be like Mary Sue! Buy your 2015 Patriots season tickets today!

(Disclaimer: Rob Gronkowski will probably not sit next to you during games and seduce you.)

Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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