Daniel Snyder is the worst owner the NFL has had for the past two decades. In his 21 years owning the Washington team, stamped by his long-time adamance to keep the “Redskins” name until being forced to change in 2020, he’s mismanaged the organization to the point of consistent failure.
Washington, because of its market size, long history and national fan base, still has one of the league’s most profitable and popular teams, but beyond the revenue generated during the league’s modern boom, Washington has lost its relevance as a winning and well-run franchise. That’s tied to Snyder making moves that have alienated many executives, coaches, players and fans over the years.
Here’s a timeline of Snyder’s troubling tenure:
Daniel Snyder ownership timeline
May 25, 1999 — Snyder pays $800 million — a then record for a sports transaction — to acquire the Redskins and their current stadium (now FedEx Field) after the death of previous owner Jack Kent Cooke. To make the deal possible, Snyder sells his communications company, borrows $340 million from a French bank and assumes $155 million debt on the stadium.
July 24, 1999 — Snyder’s arrival leads to the resignation of general manager Charley Casserly, who would go on to win Sporting News executive of the year for making the blockbuster draft-day deal with the Saints to acquire all their class picks for No. 1 overall (Ricky Williams) and picking cornerback Champ Bailey. Casserly is replaced by the low-on-experience Vinny Cerrato, a failed actor.
June 2, 2000 — Snyder gives recently released Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders, then 32, a seven-year, $56 million contract. Sanders plays well, but he retires from the league for the first time after one season in Washington.
July 2000 — Snyder pays $1 million to break a contract and move Washington’s training camp from Frostburg, Md., to team headquarters in Ashburn, Va. He makes Washington the first team in the NFL to charge fans to attend camp practices, $10 for admission and $10 for parking.
Dec. 4, 2000 — Snyder fires coach Norv Turner, who was hired as Washington’s head coach in 1994, despite the fact Turner has a 7-6 record with three games left. The team finishes 1-2 and misses the playoffs with interim replacement Terry Robiskie.
January 2001 — Snyder replaces Turner with Marty Schottenheimer, who was a couple of years removed from his successful stint with the Chiefs.
September 2001 — The team sells “Pentagon Flag” hats at $23.99 a piece for profit and also adds a mysterious $4 security charge after the tragic events of Sept. 11, according to a report from Washington City Paper.
Jan. 13, 2002 — Snyder fires Schottenheimer after only one season, even though the team went 8-3 after an 0-5 start to narrowly miss the playoffs.
Jan. 14, 2002 — Snyder hires Steve Spurrier, soon after he resigns at the University of Florida, to replace Schottenheimer, giving him a five-year, $25-million deal, then the largest coaching contract in NFL history.
Dec. 30, 2003 — Spurrier resigns short of collecting the $15 million owed to him on the final three years of his contract, disappointed that he couldn’t translate his college coaching success to the NFL under Snyder.
Jan. 7, 2004 — Snyder brings back three-time Super Bowl winning coach Joe Gibbs to replace Spurrier and also gives him the title of team president. Gibbs, after a 6-10 first season, gets the team to overachieve in his four seasons, with two playoff trips.
September 2006 — Another part of the Washington City Paper expose on Snyder documents how the team sold bags of peanuts at the stadium originally intended for distribution on Independence Air, an airline that went defunct the year before.
Jan. 8, 2008 — Gibbs, coming off a playoff loss to the Seahawks, decides to retire for the second and final time vs. coaching out the final year of his contract.
Feb. 10, 2008 — Snyder makes Jim Zorn the fourth head coach of his tenure. Although delivering a good offense, the team goes only 8-8 in Zorn’s first year.
June 12, 2008 — Snyder-owned Red Zebra Broadcasting acquires Washington’s two most prominent sports radio stations, ESPN 980 (WTEM) and Sports Talk 570 (WSPZ). Beyond broadcasting Redskins games, they allow the team to control media conversations about the team.
Oct. 8, 2008 — Snyder, through WFI Stadium Inc., files one of his 125 lawsuits against season-ticket holders who were forced to default on their 10-year, $5,000 agreements after being hit hard by a two-year recession. Per The Washington Post, they were sued for a total of $3.6 million with the team ending up winning $2 million in judgments. That comes despite Snyder’s claim that there were at least 200,000 people on the season-ticket waitlist at the time.
Feb. 27, 2009 — Snyder gives free-agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth a seven-year, $100 million deal, for which the Redskins also were accused by the Titans of tampering before free agency. Haynesworth was a bad fit for the coaches and after two disappointing seasons of production, he was traded to the Patriots in the summer of 2011 for only a fifth-round pick.
Oct. 9-13, 2009 — The Washington Post runs a series of columns, including from prominent voices MIchael Wilbon and Sally Jenkins, shining a light on Snyder’s mismanagement and the Redskins’ first decade of foundering under him.
Oct. 18, 2009 — Snyder decides to let a lame-duck Zorn finish up the season, but strips him of offensive play-calling duties, giving them to new “consultant” Sherman Lewis
Dec. 17, 2009 — Snyder hires new general manager Bruce Allen after Vinny Cerrato resigns as executive vice president of football operations after a decade of disappointment.
Jan. 4, 2010 — Snyder fires Zorn after only two seasons.
Jan. 5, 2010 — Snyder hires Mike Shanahan to both replace Zorn as coach and Cerrato as VP of football operations. Allen and Shanahan are put in co-charge of the personnel decisions.
April 4, 2010 — Washington makes a rare intradivision trade with Philadelphia for quarterback Donovan McNabb, giving up third- and fourth-round picks.
Nov. 15, 2010 — Snyder gives McNabb an incentive-based five-year contract extension worth up to $88 million. That night, McNabb’s former team, the Eagles, come into FedEx Field and rout the Redskins 59-28 behind his replacement, Michael Vick.
Dec. 17, 2010 — Less than a month after the QB’s extension, Shanahan benches McNabb for the rest of the season, dropping him to third string on the depth chart.
September 2010 — With Snyder and Allen, Washington goes against the league directive to not use an uncapped season to future salary-cap advantage. The result is a $36 million cap penalty, a hit to be taken in 2012 and 2013.
May 9, 2013 — Snyder makes his infamous quote about his feelings on the “Redskins” name in an interview with USA Today. “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple,” he says. “NEVER — you can use caps.”
Summer 2013 — During an offseason trip to Costa Rica, Washington forces its cheerleaders to be male escorts and get naked in front of its patrons, according to a New York Times investigation.
Dec. 30, 2013 — Snyder fires Shanahan, ending a bit of a power struggle surrounding the usage of quarterback Robert Griffin III, a rookie superstar in 2012 turned knee injury flameout the following season.
Jan. 9, 2014 — Snyder hires Jay Gruden to replace Shanahan, giving him a five-year, $20 million all-guaranteed contract.
Feb. 10, 2014 — Snyder attempts to dip into the team’s glorious past again, hiring Super Bowl 32 MVP QB Doug Williams as a personnel executive. Williams remains with the team as a senior vice president of player development in 2020 after a three-year stint being more involved with personnel decisions.
Jan. 6, 2015 — Snyder hires former 49ers and Seahawks front-office scouting expert Scot McCloughan as general manager, removing those GM duties from still-president Allen, who had personnel control after Shanahan’s firing.
March 9, 2017 — Snyder fires McCloughan, who reportedly was battling more off-field issues with alcoholism. Under McCloughan, the team went 17-14-1, turning into a playoff team with Gruden and QB Kirk Cousins. Allen goes back to being GM.
Oct. 7, 2019 — Snyder fires Gruden short of a full six seasons after the team starts 0-5. A rift reportedly began during the 2019 draft, when Snyder and Gruden didn’t see eye to eye on selecting QB Dwayne Haskins at No. 15 overall. The team opened 0-4 with Case Keenum starting instead.
Dec. 30, 2019 — Snyder fires Allen after a long string of ineffective personnel moves and a season that ended up 3-13.
Jan. 1, 2020 — Snyder hires Ron Rivera to replace Gruden as coach, but the team continues to operate without a president or GM after Allen. Rivera has considerable personnel authority, but with Allen, Snyder is the team’s primary front-office executive.
July 13, 2020 — Washington announces it will be changing the name “Redskins,” despite Snyder’s not long ago insisting that it would “NEVER” happen.
July 16, 2020 — A Washington Post investigative report details the toxic masculinity of Snyder’s organization, from which 15 women accuse former Redskins employees of sexual harassment. Snyder isn’t among those accused, but three executives close to him and two more men from the scouting department are. Snyder, however, does get blame for under staffing his human resources department and creating a toxic office culture of belittlement.
Aug. 26, 2020 — The Post follows up its July report with another piece alleging more workplace harassment throughout Snyder’s tenure. Twenty-five more more women come forward to the Post, making the total number of accusers 42. The most titillating claim was that Snyder ordered the team’s video department to produce an outtakes video of cheerleaders’ private parts that were filmed during the shooting of the squad’s swimsuit calendar in 2008. Snyder is also alleged to have suggested to a cheerleader at a 2004 charity event that she join Anthony Roberts, the team’s official ophthamologist and a high school classmate of Snyder’s, in a hotel room so they “could get to know each other better.” Snyder denied both allegations in a statement to the Post.
Dec. 22, 2020 — According to another Washington Post report, it was revealed in filed court records the Washington Football Team paid a former female employee who had accused Snyder of sexual conduct $1.6 million in a 2009 settlement.
Dec. 29, 2020 — Three limited partners in Washington Football Team’s ownership accuse Snyder of corporate malfeasance, which included harrassment and intimidation as well as financial misdeeds. Snyder had accused them of falsifying reports of his alleged sexual misconduct.
March 24, 2021 — Snyder’s complete buyout of Washington Football Team’s minority owners is reported by The New York Times. The move is expected to be approved by NFL owners via with a waiver, based on Snyder taking on $450 milliion in debt which he must repay in seven years. At 56, Snyder will take full control of the ownership by spending $875 million to take the remaining 40.5 percent stake in the team.
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