The NFL recently held its annual fall meeting. I’m sure you’ve all heard about it by now. During the meeting between League officials, owners, and players, Texans’ owner Bob McNair severely put his foot in his mouth. Searching for a phrase, McNair compared the NFL players to inmates. So, on second thought, McNair didn’t put his foot in his mouth. He put both feet, ankles, and so on, all the way up to his knees.
McNair has since apologized for the remarks. He has come under intense heat for his horrendous choice of words, and I don’t need to keep piling on. However, there was something else that happened at the meeting that needs to be discussed, and that’s the remarks of Washington Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder.
Among many topics discussed at the meeting, one major issue was, of course, the ongoing player protests during the National Anthem. Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones seemed to take the reins of the argument that players should be mandated to stand. Snyder played sycophant to Jones, backing up his position. Unfortunately for Jones and Snyder, there isn’t much the NFL can do about it prior to the re-negotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA doesn’t expire until 2020.
During the meeting, Snyder was quoted as saying “See, Jones gets it-96 percent of Americans are for guys standing.” Although I’m sure it was meant as an offhand remark, Snyder’s quote has just so many things wrong with it, I don’t know where to start.
First off, the statistic of “96 percent” is based on absolutely nothing. Snyder pulled that number from thin air, and was astoundingly wrong. The most recent polls found that 51% of Americans feel that athletes should not be required to stand for the Anthem, with 47% feeling that they should. Last I checked, 47% isn’t the same as 96%. In fact, it’s less than half of it. It is not surprising that Snyder didn’t know the exact number, but it should be kind of shocking just how wrong he was.
What Snyder’s remarks show is that he is woefully out of touch with society. Somehow, Snyder believes that his opinion is correct, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In many ways, I find Snyder’s comments worse than McNair’s. McNair made an awful choice of words, but the phrase he used is a common saying, that was just highly inappropriate for the topic at hand. McNair’s mistake, while offensive, is at least understandable. But Snyder on the other hand, shows a level of ignorance that is baffling. It also shows that he is incapable of considering the feelings of others.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We’ve all heard plenty over the years about the controversy surrounding the name “Redskins”. The controversy was particularly prevalent about two years ago. Amidst copious coverage on the topic, one thing became crystal clear. Dan Snyder cannot even began to fathom that the name might be offensive to some people.
That, right there, is Dan Snyder in a nutshell. An egregiously out of touch billionaire who is convinced that the world is as he believes it to be, putting blinders on to anything that defies his reality.
Snyder and Jones are approaching the issue from a business standpoint. They’re businessmen, and that’s how they need to approach it. A good business approach is to understand both your market and your product. Snyder’s market is the fans, his product, the players. And he clearly understands neither.
Since Snyder took over the Redskins in 1999, they have won three NFC East titles. By comparison, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys have each won four, and the Philadelphia Eagles have won seven. Snyder’s presence and the team’s struggles are not unrelated.
For the Washington Redskins at least, the issue is not “inmates running the prison.” It’s that their captain is asleep at the wheel.