WSJ: Are the Redskins Losing Washington?

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Lanky Livingston

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In a town drawn up by a Frenchman, a place brimming with people who hail from somewhere else and who don't agree about much of anything, the Washington Redskins managed to attain something any professional sports franchise would kill for: a giant fan base that loved them unconditionally.

The primary architect of this loyalty was longtime Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, the ruggedly handsome silver-haired showman who'd come to town after working similar miracles in Los Angeles with the Lakers. In the 1970s and '80s, his blue-collar teams made this preposterous swamp feel like a city.

But this season, something seems to have changed. It's not that the Redskins are 3-7 and headed for oblivion—the team has had only three winning seasons since 1999. It's that the complaints many fans and former players are hurling at the team seem to suggest something more serious is happening: that its essence—whatever it is that made the Redskins "the Redskins"—has gone away.

A Harris Interactive poll taken in 2003 put the Redskins at No. 6 in the NFL in nationwide popularity. In the most recent poll taken earlier this year, they had fallen to No. 17.

"It's very possible that the ownership of this team has ruptured themselves in a way with the fans where a lot of them are through," says John Riggins, a former star Redskins running back who has been openly critical of the team's current owner, Daniel Snyder. Michael Richman, a Redskins historian, says that between the losing and the acrimony surrounding the team, "this could go down as the worst season in Redskins' history."

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Lanky Livingston

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One of the more alarming quotes:

"I'd be surprised if any team that has a tough year doesn't have fans critical of last year's draft picks and last year's free agency," says team executive David Donovan. Last season, when the team won six of its first eight games, he says, nobody was questioning its personnel choices.
Really? I have heard people questioning the OLine depth for YEARS.
 

Henry

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Sounds about right.

This just really burns me:

"I'd be surprised if any team that has a tough year doesn't have fans critical of last year's draft picks and last year's free agency," says team executive David Donovan. Last season, when the team won six of its first eight games, he says, nobody was questioning its personnel choices.
These guys still don't get it. I don't think they ever will.
 

Neophyte

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What he should have said was that he didn't hear so many people questioning the personnel decisions because I heard lots of questions from more knowledgeable fans. Granted, the media didn't question anything but that is the media and they are the original "what have you done for me lately?" group.
 

kirbster

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If Snyder doesn't fire Vinny and hire a real GM and give him full control of football operations, I believe many of the fans will leave in droves.
 

Elephant

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I must admit, I am sad after reading that article! I can only imagine what it must be like for the younger fans who do not know what a great franchise this once was.

I am going to ask my more educated football/business friends. Is there any was Ronnie Mervis or somebody with the means could pull this team away from Snyder? Is there some agreement among the owners that can wrestle a team away from an owner sort of the same way Rush was denied owning a team?
 

Lanky Livingston

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I think the only time to bar him from ownership was right at the beginning...so we're essentially stuck with him. And since he grew up a fan, I doubt there's any way to pry the team from him, even with a ridiculously overpriced offer. I mean, douche or no douche, we can all relate with the childhood dream of being affiliated with the Redskins in some way, shape or form. Could YOU be forced to sell the Skins if you owned them? I know I couldn't.
 

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