The 2000 Redskins: The first super team that wasn’t
By Kyle Hundley
When people talk about super teams today, a lot more of the talk seems to be about the NBA than NFL. Super teams in the NFL are hard to construct because there are so many moving components such as free agency, the draft, and the salary cap. And since their rosters are so much bigger than any other sport, it’s hard to fill it out with talent from top to bottom. Every team has a weakness at one position. But, this was one of the first super teams assembled in the NFL, on paper, at least.
Snyder tried to imitate what the MLB’s New York Yankees do, and spend lavishly at free agency to shore up any weaknesses, effectively buying a championship. The MLB doesn’t have a salary cap though, so Snyder had to be creative in getting under the $62 million cap (imagine a $62 million cap with today’s quarterback contract demands) by paying out over $50 million in signing bonuses. The total sum between salaries and bonuses was an excess of $100 million. The 2000 Redskins were the first team in NFL history to exceed that threshold. This team was the best that money could buy.
They were a botched field goal away from being in the NFC Championship a year prior, so they were talented as it was. Then when you add the high-priced future Hall of Famers (even though they were shadows of their former selves) plus the other free agent additions, and a couple of top three draft picks, this team was a team that added quality depth and shored up its weaknesses. They appeared loaded. And, lofty expectations were heaped on them because it was Super Bowl or bust for the Redskins.
While they finished 8-8, they had six games in which they were trailing with a chance to tie or win with less than three minutes left. They finished 0-6 in those games. How could a team with this much talent regress to .500? The answer was the team’s inability to close out games, which had become a calling card for Norv Turner, and he didn’t make it through the season because of it. Missed field goals, drive-killing penalties, and interceptions had become an all-too-common theme for this team at the end of games. The Redskins were picked by many as a Super Bowl contender before the season and then missed the playoffs entirely, so 2000 will always be looked at as an expensive disappointment.
This season was the first in which Dan Snyder was running things in Washington and us, as fans, got a glimpse of what Snyder’s ownership would offer for years to come: a big spending spree to give a glimmer of hope, followed immediately by disappointment.
In many ways, this was the perfect season to start the transition from the Jack Kent Cooke era to the Snyder era, as it was a season ripe with disappointment, something that has almost now become synonymous with the Snyder era.
“Disappointment often signals transition toward change or a stagnation into nothingness.” -Unknown