Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Coulda been a column...

I thought I might actually write this for last Sunday's paper, but other things got in the way. So, I'll put it on here. I was actually pretty proud of the concept (maybe me actually finding my voice?):

Stop me if you've heard this one before: The white-collar criminal sits down to enjoy a pasta dinner near a table of large, gruff-looking men speaking of hits and shakedowns and, occasionally, waste management. The lone man stands up and expresses his displeasure at the group's apparent activities.

"You, dear gentlemen," he exclaims, "are a drain on our society."

There was no such prevailing sense of irony when this missive arrived in the inbox last week:

"Statement On Art Monk From Washington Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder:

'A good man and legitimate Hall of Famer is being denied entry for reasons we never know, by people who secretly vote. Art Monk is a Hall of Famer by any measure. This is not right.'"

The former Redskins receiver, of course, narrowly missed gaining entrance into the Hall of Fame. The voting, conducted by members of the Pro Football Writers Association, is announced the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

If I'm reading this correctly, and I'm certain I am, the team owner who refuses all in-season interviews and most offseason interviews, the team owner who so rarely faces the fans that make his the richest franchise on earth, the team owner who has issued press releases to "correct" information published in the country's second-most influential daily newspaper, is upset because of a lack of transparency.

It's a softball any Little Leaguer could hit out of the park.

This isn't about Monk, who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and it's not about the PFWA, which owes fans a clearer look into the selection process. It's that the most secretive owner in pro sports has the gall to get on his soapbox and complain about another organization's secrecy. And all of this through a statement - because, Lord knows, that beats the alternative of facing the commoner press corps.

Because those silly reporters would never stick to the topic at hand. They'd want to know why the 2006 Redskins became the NFL's biggest underachievers. They'd ask why the chemistry of the '05 playoff run was allowed to evaporate. They'd want to know how long the failed build-through-free-agency tactic would continue.

Snyder's element of control in any public forum would be lost. It would be lost because even his team's fans tire of his shenanigans, because his strategies have become punchlines and because few people believe his team's record is more important than its bottom line. Beloved owners, even in lean years, are not subjected to such treatment. Then again, beloved owners at least seem approachable and open, as much as the secretive inner workings of the NFL allow.

Snyder is not beloved, and seems unconcerned as to his approachability or openness.

He demands accountability from a usual suspect of a target - the media - yet is unwilling to utter a word when his team limps home at 5-11 amid an increasingly apathetic fan base.

This is not to equate him to a white-collar criminal, as the opening anecdote may indicate. But the pot/kettle adage has never had a better example.

(Apologies if the fonts look different. They don't seem to want to cooperate.)


ME said...

Welcome back buddy!

This guy sounds like a clown. I was not happy to read that he bought Johnny Rockets, one of my favorite chain restaurants. Balls.

Balarko said...

Nice article. You should publish it! Snyder needs to hear it from somebody, and you really take an interesting point of view...