SNIDER: Snyder rebuilds the right way

Rick Snider
August 17, 2020 - 12:11 pm

Has Dan Snyder finally realized how to build a successful organization?

After 21 years of persistent losing, scandals and stupidity, has the team finally found a way out of being the NFL's worst operation? Is there hope for becoming not just a consistent winning franchise, but one Washingtonians can be once again proud to support?

Maybe . . . though we've seen this before only to watch it crumble.

Snyder is on a streak of solid decisions. He opted to move on from the Redskins name after years of derision. The permanent one won't come for a while, but the Washington Football Team and its marketing is respectable.

The right coach was picked. Not just someone with a winning background. Snyder has often picked legendary names only to undermine them and watch the team rebuild every few years. This time, though, the coach has the right personality in Ron Rivera. While predecessors Marty Schottenheimer, Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan were equally stoic, Schottenheimer and Shanahan undermined themselves while Gibbs left after deciding his family needed him more.

Rivera won't shy from the storm that always encircles the team. He is the storm. The difference over Schottenheimer and Shanahan is Rivera isn't a draconian leader who devalues players and staff. He is the rock who can be a cornerstone of success.

Snyder ousted several failed executives like president Bruce Allen and hired competent people. On Monday, Jason Wright was named team president while focusing on business operations. Wright is the perfect pick – a youngish leader at 38 whose resume includes NFL player and University of Chicago business school grad.

There's a lot to like about this hire. After two disastrous leaders in Vinny Cerrato and Allen, Snyder finally found an emerging talent. This was the type of hire the owner should have made 21 years ago when buying the team and wrongly firing general manager Charley Casserly. And, Wright becomes the NFL's first Black team president.

The radio announcing team had grown stale, so Snyder hired local sportscaster Julie Donaldson to oversee communications that has already sparked some interesting content. The hiring of longtime local broadcaster Bram Weinstein and former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall should make even boring, low-scoring games more interesting.
Certainly, Snyder was forced into all of these decisions because his past ones were disastrously wrong. Home supporters were outnumbered by visiting fans every game last season. TV ratings plummeted. Snyder's three minority partners are trying to sell their combined 40 percent. Corporate sponsors threatened to pull out if the name wasn't changed.

The perfect storm that included the cancel culture caused Snyder to finally surrender. But, at least he responded with respectable moves. The key is whether Snyder doesn't undermine his employees as he often has in the past. Maybe not right away, but unless Washington wins regularly the owner will eventually meddle. And, another cleaning house and rebuilding will follow.

For now, though, things look the most positive for Washington since Gibbs returned in 2004. Who knows, maybe the team doesn't have to be a dumpster fire every five minutes and wins some games for once.

We'll see, but the first steps are encouraging.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks