By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
"It's about unity...we do not move towards divisive actions," National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
How fitting it was that Goodell made the comment in Washington, a town that knows the concept of unity better than any other. Washington is unified like never before. Not, however, because of promises of unity from President Barack Obama or former President George W. Bush. No, the only person who can successfully unite Washington is Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
Opinion on Snyder is unanimous; Snyder is universally reviled in Washington; torn apart daily in Washington's newspapers, sports blogs, and taxicabs.
When some enterprising Redskin fans were photographed at the Detroit Lions debacle with an impromptu sign reading "Fire Dan Snyder," it took off like wildfire. Redskin crowds began to look like fans waving signs at WWE matches or requesting "Candy's Room" at a Bruce Springsteen concert. So the Redskins did what they thought prudent: banned signs of any kind, regardless of content, while also curtailing television stations from interviewing fans tailgating before the loss—I mean, game.
Fans have begun fundraising to elevate their opposition to Snyder. One group is raising money for a "Dan Snyder Embarrassment Fund," while local radio station, WMAL, reported on one fan's attempts to raise money to buy "Fire Dan Snyder" ads on Metro buses throughout the city.
Before a recent book-signing in Washington, the Sports Guy, ESPN.com's Bill Simmons joked, that he would inscribe books "Sorry Snyder ruined your will to live." (At least, I think it was a joke.)
All of this came long after Snyder's decision to sue some fans unable to maintain season ticket packages. (Public Relations 101: Don't sue your own fans.)
Commissioner Goodell had no problem with Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney invoking Obama immediately after winning last season's Super Bowl; he did not consider Michael Vick too divisive for the league; and, when addressing what he saw as racial divisiveness, the commissioner omitted the Redskins' obviously insensitive—some might say racist—team name. All of that is fine, but Rush Limbaugh as a minority owner of a team? Heavens, no.
Washington might actually be better served by allowing Limbaugh to take over for Snyder. Sure, it would draw howls from the Washington Post, but the team is getting that already. And could Rush possibly do any worse?
If he promised to put a team together that could defeat the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles (not to mention the Lions and Kansas City Chiefs) and perhaps told fans he wouldn't sue them, frustrated Washingtonians—even some of the elites in Georgetown—might find El Rushbo a welcome alternative to fans' current collective depression.
"Nothing brings a team and a community together like the NFL," Goodell told the Committee.
Unity is not the problem. Winning, however...