Daniel Snyder Confronts His Gluttony
By Ronald Guy
We’ve all been “that kid.” You know the one. Hell, you’ve probably been that kid (you might even have the stones to admit it). He rocked well-won Avia’s when Nike’s Air Jordan dominated the athletic shoe scene. He spent hours mastering Frogger on the Atari 2600 when Pac-Man on the 5200 was all the rage. When his buddies ripped around the neighborhood on sleek BMX bikes, he was stuck playing catch up on an old, splintered skateboard handed down from his idiot brother. He was the kid fogging the window on the local Toys ‘R Us while his spoiled peers ransacked the joint — just outside but miles away from all the fun.
Every stinking post-holiday trip to the cul-de-sac to compare the annual offerings from the fat man in the red suit was a humbling experience. That symbiotic relationship between behavior and gifts was an evil, selfish parental lie. The year he earned perfect marks in school was his proof. Certain he had earned a sweet reward, he asked for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” album — he got a used Menudo record instead. The resulting bitterness left him rooting for The Bumble to eat Rudolph, that stupid little dentist with the whiny voice and Yukon Cornelius every holiday season thereafter.
A little age didn’t improve his plight.
He wore short-shorts way beyond their shelf life, and was much too late getting off the big yellow bus and into his own cool sled (see his non-existent high school love life for proof). When he wanted an X-Box, he got a sweater instead. When begged for a smartphone, he scored a hand-me-down flip phone from his unsympathetic father. His lack of cool stuff, his pathetic absence of bling and his meager stock of anything that would even flirt with cutting edge created persistent frustration. There was no golden ticket for this jaded adolescent, no matter how many Wonka chocolate bars he consumed.
His mama scolded his envy and asserted he was better for his want. The embarrassment would build character. His unsatisfied desires would be motivating and help him appreciate the few trinkets he had. He smelled the B.S.; it was same stench surrounding the equation that good behavior equals presents from Santa. He didn’t want it all, just his fair share. He didn’t want to stand out as much as he just wanted to blend in. He wanted justice … fairness … equity. He wanted to not want all the time. He wanted to “have” – at least occasionally.
Was ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder ever that kid? I don’t know, but he certainly hasn’t been that owner. Since taking the helm in ol’ D.C., Snyder’s legacy isn’t wins on the field, it’s buying up all the frivolous, fancy toys in the offseason. “Win the Spring” is tattooed on one modest bicep; “Lose the Fall” is inked on the other. The expensive and unproductive toys — Sanders, Archuleta, Trotter, Stubblefield and Haynesworth — played like champions in other NFL locals and got paid like kings in D.C. If Snyder were to pen his NFL autobiography, suggested titles would include, “Why Earn It When You Can Buy It?” and “Patience Isn’t A Virtue … It’s A Flaw.”
The only thing that halted Snyder’s spending addiction was papa Goodell putting his credit card on ice as penance for the ‘Skins cooking the books in fabulous corporate America form during the league’s uncapped 2010 season. The $36 million cap-slap, spread evenly between the previous two offseasons, shoved Snyder kicking and screaming to the free agency sidelines. Poor dude probably felt like a Democrat with no social program or a Republican unable to grossly overfund defense or fossil fuel extraction. I picture him shivering in fetal position as free agency opened; an addict lacking his fix. Is there any doubt he held mock press conferences with those three tarnished Super Bowl trophies and cardboard cutouts of that year’s biggest prizes?
With the sentence served, lots of needs, plenty of cap space and Snyder bursting with anticipation like a birthday boy staring at his cake and flickering candles, the ‘Skins were supposed to return to hyper-spending form this March. No more B-list footwear, thrift store threads or antiquated electronics. Nope, this offseason Jairus Byrd would be added to the secondary. Eric Decker or Julian Edelman would be picked up to supply Robert Griffin III with a productive commodity opposite Pierre Garcon. And to ensure March was won, Aqib Talib or Darrelle Revis would be inked to record-setting deals.
Or, none of that would happen, and Washington’s free agent “haul” would include Andre Roberts, some guard named Shawn Lauvao, a few no-name linebackers, journeyman corner Tracy Porter and its crown jewel — such that it is — Jason Hatcher. Stop me when you wake from the temporary coma those names induce or drool drips on your keyboard. Instead of acquiring football versions of an iPhone or a dirt bike, the ‘Skins got a supply of shoes, socks and t-shirts — the dreaded “useful gifts.” Useful? What happened to shallow and flashy? These ‘Skins are not The Snyder’s of Landover. It feels like my coupon clipping, senior discount hunting grandma-ma is in charge of the checkbook … and Snyder must be losing his mind.
Of course, in re-signing Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley, Santana Moss, DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Meriweather and Chris Baker (a move I love), the ‘Skins added to the snore-fest by simply taking care of their own free agents. If you changed the team’s nickname, logo and colors and swapped out the nameplate above the owner’s office door, you would swear this offseason was executed by an NFL team that “gets” free agency — one that understands teams are built over time and through the draft and that rosters can only be accentuated via free agency. To steal a nugget of wisdom from the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want, but if you wrestle authority away from your fantasy football owner, you might just get what you need — the boring, workmanlike offseason in D.C. persists.
Keep it coming. Put the outside world to sleep and give Snyder a well-earned turn as “that kid.” He and the team will be better for the want. Mama was right.