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The Best Little Whorehouse in Ashburn

As fans argued about whether Lavar Arrington was God or the Devil, as we bitched about the latest precious draft picks tossed carelessly away to rent Jason Taylor for a year, or mourned the latest departure of Joe Jackson Gibbs, over a decade of fan distraction something's happened to our franchise. It stopped being about football.

Dan Snyder's turned us into Walmart.

The Redskins are about one thing today. Even in the midst of one of their most pathetic seasons ever - they're about selling. Selling ads, selling tickets (and buyer team affiliation is not a barrier), selling shirts, hats, jerseys, ad space. If the Redskins could find a way to sell the FedEx Field turf every week, and regrow it before next Sunday's game, a couple inches of it could be had for only $19.99.

In Washington D.C., the hunger for all-things-Redskin is insatiable. Even while mired in mediocrity, they're bigger than sex. And the Redskins franchise has become the most garish neon-laden whorehouse on the strip.

Doubt me?

Take a look at the Washington Redskins Official Team Site at On the first page alone today, I counted 26 ads, brazenly pasted over a smattering of actual content, anywhere an ad can be slapped, wedged, or weaseled into place. There are ads on top of ads - and even the content usually contains a sponsor name. On that single telling webpage, there are no less than 14 companies pimped (including Samsung, Russell, Bud Light, Bank of America, Audi, Papa Johns, Stub Hub, Canon, Amtrak, 7 Eleven, Fed Ex, Sprint, the Virginia Lottery, and the Redskins Store). Think Alec Baldwin in 'Glengarry Glen Ross' here. If there's a doubt in your mind what this organization's #1 priority is, take 30 seconds to view their homepage, and it will become crystal clear.

But come on - I'm being naïve here - professional football is 'big business, isn't it? Any fool knows that. Times have changed, that's just a reality NFL fans have to accept. Whether it's Free Agency, where players shop themselves to the highest bidder, or ripping NFL franchises out of the ground by the roots to replant them in a more lucrative spot across the country, it's not 1962 anymore. I just need to get with the program, right?

Even in a national culture that feels more like Sodom and Gomorrah than traditional America at times, the Redskins excel at excess. Just out of curiosity, I took a glance at every other NFL team's official websites. Shockingly, I found lots of ads on their homepages, sometimes as many as 10 or 12 of them. But nowhere did I see the galactic swap meet approach taken by our beloved Redskins. The best little whorehouse in Ashburn will not be outsold.

The Redskins unholy pursuit of the almighty dollar doesn't end with their web presence. As a former season-ticket holder, I'm spammed with ads by the organization on nearly a daily basis. Probably the most irritating of these solicitations are the ones that arrive in my email box after the latest sub-par performing loss to some other bad NFL club. The Redskins also continue to aggressively guard the laughable notion that they've got a gazillion fans clamoring to fill the seats of anyone foolish enough to give up their season tickets. That's why, after surrendering mine 2 seasons ago, I've been hounded via letter, phone, and email to renew them almost every month since then.

And God help the Redskins fans who attend games in their home stadium. The non-stop onslaught of advertising that washes over fans in waves is only occasionally interrupted by on-the-field play. These days, that may actually be tantamount to mercy. At least there's something to distract from the pain of actually watching the games.

What, really, is my point?

Why howl at the moon? Bemoaning the inevitable, that NFL football has become big business, more about money than the game, is pointlessly wasted energy. We ain't inventing the flux capacitor and zooming back in time to 1962. I do get that. But why is it always all or nothing with these Redskins? Other teams do incredibly well financially, but find ways to build a stable football organization that produces consistently respectable and winning results on the field. Other teams generate advertising revenue without treating their fans like mindless crack addict zombies. It can be done.

Why do I care what the Redskins do off the football field? Because I don't believe you can separate the two things. An organization only has so many resources, so many employees, so many hours in the day, so many leaders and administrators. You can only worship one God at a time in the NFL. The Washington Redskins have clearly chosen to do one thing better than any other NFL franchise. And I'll give you a hint.

It doesn't involve offense, defense, or special teams.

I hear the plodding approach of the counter-argument. So let's go ahead and get it out there. What are you talking about? Dan Snyder spends more on his team than any other owner. Look at the acquisitions he's made, picking up an Albert Haynesworth - he's willing to invest in his team and we should be damn glad to have him running our franchise. I've heard this a lot. And there's only one problem with the argument (setting aside who he's picking up off the shelves). It doesn't have anything to do with what I'm suggesting. I'm not suggesting Snyder isn't willing to spend money on his team. I'm saying that producing a winning team is not his priority, nor the focus of this organization, and hasn't been since Dan Snyder's arrival.

Dan Snyder got to be Dan Snyder by being a shrewd, aggressive, Machiavellian businessman. He's spent his first decade as Redskins owner being a shrewd, aggressive, Machiavellian businessman. This team will never win meaningfully again as long as the owner (and by definition, the franchise) focus is revenue. Dan Snyder really only needs to decide one thing to turn this franchise around - does he want to win and earn the respect and even adoration of Redskins fans? Or is he content to continue to receive the revenue-generating NFL trophy every season?

Time will tell.

This blog entry has been brought to you by Popeye's Chicken.


Love that chicken from Popeye's!​
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