Once again, Washington’s football team is in the news for all the wrong reasons. This time around, it’s putting Pro Bowl defensive back DJ Swearinger on waivers and firing chief operating officer Brian Lafemina. This has led to the hashtag #FireBruceAllen to trend on Twitter.
Team President, Bruce Allen, has caught the ire of the fan base for years. Fair or unfair, Allen is seen as the voice of owner Daniel Snyder. Unlike Jerry Jones, Snyder never comes out of hiding. He stays in the shadows as if he’s hands off when it’s pretty well known that he isn’t. If there’s one thing you can say about Jones, he makes the decisions and takes responsibility for them.
Fans in Washington would prefer is Snyder just stay out of the football business altogether. That’s something that isn’t going to happen. Snyder views himself as the “hero” but he’s turned into Syndrome from the movie The Incredibles. As a kid he was a big fan and somewhere along the way, his goal became to “rescue” the franchise from the perils of mediocrity. But, just like Syndrome, his desires turned himself to the dark side. Instead of being the hero, he’s viewed by the public as the enemy.
As he sits in his mansion, he has to ask the question, is firing Allen a hill he wants to die on? It’s very dangerous for an owner of any business, nevertheless professional sports, to act at the whim of the fans. Fans are consumers not board members. Consumers drive the market, they don’t make business decisions. That’s a fact that has gotten lost in all of this.
It’s understandable that Snyder wants to control the optics of it all. Just like any other owner, he wants to give the impression that the fans count but that’s where it ends. He doesn’t want them thinking they are shareholders and, to be fair, no owner wants that in any sport.
And lets not forget, this is the same stubborn owner who the fans supported when he said he wouldn’t change the name. He didn’t do that for the fans, he did it for himself and the same fans upset with him now, applauded him then.
It’s a legitimate question to ask if the fans haven’t pushed Snyder in a corner that forces him to keep Allen, not fire him. Allen can make this easy on Snyder by taking the Oakland Raiders GM job. Allen and Jon Gruden have worked together before where they were wildly unsuccessful in Tampa. After winning the Super Bowl with a roster built and developed by their predecessors, they took the keys and drove the car into a tree.
Snyder’s other choice is to come out and pledge his allegiance to Allen. With the talk of a new stadium heating up, are fans really going to stay away if Allen is kept? Most realists would say “no”. Opening day at a new stadium at the old location of RFK would have fans fighting over tickets, companies outbidding each other for suites, and Snyder smiling like a butcher’s dog.
Despite making PR mistakes, personnel mistakes, salary cap mistakes and every other mistake a professional team can make, Snyder is still in a good position. He’s one of 32 owners who has one of the most valuable franchises in the league.
So Snyder’s dilemma is whether he should listen to the fans or stay loyal to his friend? No sweat… it’s just another day is one of the most poorly run franchises in professional sports.