The lone constant
There exists a reality that is difficult to accept, in the aftermath of the Redskins extinction event. Bruce Allen needed to go, but he was never the absolute root of Washington’s failure. Trace all the evidence from the scene, and you’ll find that every arrow eventually leads back to the owner. Dan Snyder.
Even before Bruce Allen was hired, Snyder was the problem. His misplaced superiority complex led him to meddle in football matters, despite his lack of knowledge in that area. His manipulatory hierarchical structure suffocated potential solutions and bred controversy, all for the guise of effective authority. And his thirst for dramatic opposition led him to find it in his own building, the one place it couldn’t exist.
One year ago, hope was a dangerously scarce commodity, and Snyder’s operation caused its endangerment. The Redskins had fired Brian LaFemina, a respected NFL executive, and retained Bruce Allen as the lone authority under Snyder. And Snyder’s human potential for change, as explained below, conflicted with his machine-line deviation to the dysfunctional norm.
Snyder’s position as owner demands scrutiny, and from the Redskins fan base, it has not been in short supply. Distance breeds an significant lack of empathy and reason, and passion magnifies it. For a long time, Snyder and Allen were co-conspirators in the Redskins downfall. Antagonists in a never-ending tragedy. But Snyder has never been a hero or a villain. He’s always been the lone constant, his motivations and inner monologues unclear.
"Perhaps Snyder does care, in a flawed sense. No one who has not met him, and spent time with him, can make a damning judgement of his character. Care must be taken that Snyder, in all his failings and all his indifference, is not dehumanized. Heroes are complex characters, after all. Villains are, too. Perhaps Snyder has actively sought out a solution all these years, as he watches his base, his franchise’s source of tradition and pageantry, trickle away faster and faster."
It seems as though the failure finally resounded with Snyder. He took the step no one thought he could take, and fired his friend and ally Bruce Allen. It was a relentless firing in its quickness. Some thought maybe he would take his time, out of respect for his long-term confidant. But at the turn of the decade, Allen was gone, Rivera was hired, and Snyder was moving on.
For the first time since 2009, the Bruce Allen era is behind the Redskins. But Snyder still remains, and the warts on his record are impossible to ignore. He shares the blame in the current state of the franchise, and as he tries to turn the page, and set a once-great dynasty back on the path to relevance, one must ask the gripping question: Is it a new Snyder leading the way? Has Snyder evolved?
Some evidence supports this. Snyder closed out Allen in the latter parts of 2019 and spoke with a small board of football advisors to seek counsel on how to turn around his team. Ron Rivera mentioned Snyder’s candid desire to improve as a reason he took the Redskins head coaching job. And at the start of the new era, Snyder showed his face in public behind a podium, and acknowledged the team’s need for change in his introduction to Ron Rivera’s presser.
He didn’t admit blame. He didn’t face the wave of questions waiting for him. But he acknowledged the need for change. Much like the Rivera hire, like the firing of Bruce Allen, and like the turn of the new decade, and the new era, it’s a start.
In this sense, this decade’s birth is something drastically different. For this turn of the decade, there is no historical equal. The years of failure weigh heavily on Snyder’s shoulders, and for once, that is clear. He’s purged the organization of its cultural virus, and given authority to a man who can, and has, facilitate change, where change has all but lost belief.
It’s not a ring. But it’s a start. All that’s left is to see what the next era brings.