Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ticked Off

Ever wonder why Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder tries to “control the message” about his football team by purchasing radio stations and forbidding twittering of his practices? Ever wonder why he doesn't grant interview requests anymore? Wonder why we refer to them as the (Com)Post even when they aren’t brazenly trying to get Democrats elected in the Fascist Commonwealth of Virginia?

Look no further than last week’s two-part Redskins expose that the (Com)Post ran.

Part I was rather harmless and can be easily summed up as high pressure on the sales staff to sell tickets lead to people taking shortcuts by dumping them on ticket brokers. Basically, applying the tried and true methods of Susan O'Malley to paper your house. The salespeople who took shortcuts got what was coming to them and seem to be no longer with the Redskins which only makes sense considering the advertised length of the waiting list for season tickets.

But in Part II the hatchet was brought out by James Grimaldi and he did a job that would make Lizzie Borden blush. We have to think the noted media ethicists at the On Frozen Ombudsmen were on this like the cheap suit the one On Frozen Bozo wears during his blubbering appearances on Washington (Com)Post Live. But we wouldn't know, we've been banned from reading that blog. (Though on a side note, interesting isn’t it that people who bitterly complained about the lack professionalism of a particular institution are so willing to “bed down with them” when it boots their profile. Tells you something about them huh???) And we mention this because you know it is a bad article when the following people jump to the defense of the Redskins in this situation. First of all Steinbog valiantly tries to re-focus the conversation and point out facts that his own colleague can't keep straight. Then Tom Knott tries to inject more sanity into this whole situation. Finally, well documented Redskins hater Peter King has trouble piling on this story.

The whole thing is lead off with the story of a Granny who, after reading the whole article, we learn that quite frankly, has bigger problems than a $66K collection from the Redskins. This woman is more than $100K behind on her mortgage. Will (Com)Post dispatch another writer to pen a similar story about a bank throwing a 72 year old woman selling her lamps to stay afloat out of her home? And it doesn't end there, she has other cruel and heartless creditors calling her all day. Now, the Redskins have gotten credit for backing off but the damage of course has been done.

However, a vast majority of the people profiled by the (Com)Post simply got caught buying more than they could afford. Seriously, are we supposed to feel sorry for a guy like DHS investigator who signed a contract knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to fulfill the terms? And getting back to Knott’s point; ALL tickets for sporting events are luxury items, whether they're "on the field dream seats" or nosebleeds. Numerous people drop their season tickets because they can no longer afford them. Are these people being taken advantage of by the owners? We think not. As a matter of fact, there were Redskins Season Tickets in our family for over 20 years until the tuition payments our parents were making finally caught up. The tickets were dropped and none of us felt like victims then, or now.

Redskins Premium Seats have long been available to anybody willing and able to sign the contract. Furthermore, the idea of long-term contracts was started by the late Jack Kent Cooke, NOT Dan Snyder. As a matter of fact, the Caps, Bullets, Nats, and Terps do the exact same thing with their premium seats. The idea of contracts is not out of the ordinary the sports world and in many cases, is the catalyst to get a new building built as is the case with the Phone Booth. Revenues from the Club Seats and Luxury boxes are dedicated to paying off the loans taken out by Dishonest Abe Polin to build it.

Now, we're not saying that the Redskins are totally blameless here, for instance
selling to the mentally disabled is another example of the of high-pressure to sell more than anything else. Also given the lengths people go to these days, you're never really sure somebody is telling you the truth about themselves. Furthermore, we don't like the accusations of changing the contracts after they've been signed. That's bad business no matter who does it.

But our favorite are the people willing ping the Redskins for going after a guy convicted of embezzlement. Commonly is it $$$$$ that is being stolen in an embezzlement scheme. So here's a guy who stole $$$$$ from other people to pay for his tickets. This isn't a guy who "fell on hard luck," this is a guy WHO BROKE THE LAW. And embezzlement isn't a crime that is "victimless" or you can commit "without knowing." People had $$$$$ stolen from them by this guy and he knew what he was doing. But the Redskins are jerks for going after this guy while the Nats, who BTW are owed by people lambasted for being cheap SOB's, are praised to the nines for giving him free tickets.

If that doesn't show you the depths of Snyder Derangement Syndrome, then our friends, nothing ever will.

But what Grimaldi does that angers us the most was his challenging the Redskins at every turn in the article. When David Donovan, the Redskins General Counsel, mentioned other NFL teams sue fans who renege on contracts; he went and called the 31 other NFL teams and got some sort of comment from 18 of them to disprove the Redskins point. He even went as far as to call the other local franchises to embarrass Snyder and Donovan. Nate Ewell of the Washington Capitals later “walked back” his comments in the article because he clearly didn’t understand the situation he was being asked about. Given the nature of this article, we have to think that Grimaldi wasn't too forthcoming about the situation he was describing to Ewell which is why Ewell had to walk back from his original comments. (And for the record, the Caps cannot sue Club and Suite patrons at the Phone Booth, Dishonest Abe owns all of those.)

However, when Donovan stated “Everyone that you can find who was unhappy about the negotiation, I could find you 12 where the fan was appreciative and grateful at the efforts we went to to work out the situation.” Grimaldi doesn’t bother to check that out. He also didn’t check out Donovan’s claim about James Nesbitt either. Nope, he took us back to Granny to pull on our heartstrings some more.

Finally about the double dipping charges, it doesn’t bother us because these people reneged on contracts and incurred further costs to the team. The idea that they should get something after being forced to live up to their end of the deal just seems wrong to us. Furthermore Donovan pointed out, getting a judgment doesn’t mean you’ll get paid.

Finally, we're tired of those who say, "yeah the Redskins have the right to do this, but it’s bad PR.” As Peter King pointed out in a roundabout way, club and suite revenues are very likely being used to service the debt on the loans taken out to build the stadium. So of all revenue streams the Redskins have, this one is by far and away the most important because imagine the headlines if the stadium in Landover gets foreclosed upon. Furthermore do we really want to set the standard that you let people filch on their debts because you would look bad trying to collect it? That's a recipe for financial chaos folks and we've had enough of that already.

But with Snyder Derangement Syndrome this bad, it's no wonder he goes to the lengths he does to “control the message" about his franchise. And we can't blame him.

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