Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder objected to portions of an article that by Dave McKenna that appeared in an alternative Washington DC news weekly, so much so that he sued the small periodical for $1M-plus. City Paper readers and numerous organizations, including Washington broadcasters, supported the paper. The case has now been dropped.
McKenna’s article, “The Cranky Redskins Fans’ Guide to Dan Snyder,” came out in November of 2010, and Snyder filed his suit against McKenna and the paper’s parent company Creative Loafing in February 2011.
The ACLU and other supporters of City Paper argued that the lawsuit should be dropped, claiming it was in violation of Washington DC law preventing “SLAPPs” (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). The argument was that Snyder had no expectation of winning, nor possibly any intent to win, but rather wanted to use the suit to damage the small newspaper organization, thereby chilling freedom of speech.
Broadcasters acting in support of City Paper included Gannet’s CBS WUSA, Allbritton’s ABC WJLA, National Public Radio and the Maryland-District of Columbia-Delaware Broadcasters Association.
The settlement called for both sides to bear their own legal costs, among other things. City Paper said readers had contributed over $34K to its defense and added that the total expense was greater than that, but did not specify how much greater. In a statement, it said: “Today, we got what we wanted all along: dismissal of a case expressly designed to pressure us, and filed by a man who now apparently says he never even read the story in the first place. Now we’re eager to get back to our business of covering the city’s politics and culture—including its sports culture—without this distraction. And we hope the end of this case means Snyder can get back to focusing his energy on making our shared home team as good as it can be.”
RBR-TVBR observation: As a Washington Redskins fan of early 1970s Over-the-Hill Gang vintage, we contend that this entire situation could have been avoided, if Snyder had not taken the Redskins – OUR Redskins – and (a) turned them into his own personal toy; and (b) broken this toy that we considered to be OURS too.
It wasn’t just losing – although that was of course hard to take. It was the way the Redskins lost under Snyder time after time after time after I-don’t-believe-we’re-doing-this-AGAIN time.
It almost always involved the free agent market. There are always lots of ornamental players with big names out there, and Snyder’s Redskins often paid top dollar to get them – essentially paying them for their past, a past that age almost invariably had rendered them incapable of reproducing. So the Redsknis would usually end up with an overpriced player, and less money to spend on players who actually could still play and had a future.
That in turn led to incredibly high turnover – each year, it was a new band of strangers that had to try to come together, a very difficult feat to pull off in this sport that more than most emphasizes teamwork.
Had Snyder hire competent professional football executives to build a team in a sensible way without amateur front office meddling, such as iconic previous owner Jack Kent Cooke, the McKenna article would never have been written and no lawsuit would have been necessary.
The fact that Snyder found it necessary was just another embarrassment suffered by those of us who were still trying to maintain our love for the team.