Friday, March 30, 2007

Six Flags VIP Access: a Different View

What happens when a bunch of dudes show up in one of these?

Last night over dinner, my wife disagreed with me on the matter of the new VIP access policy at Dan Snyder's Six Flags parks. It started as a spirited discussion between two people with advanced degrees touching on the sociopolitics and -economics of the policy, and when we realized we were in an Outback restaurant, ended as so many discussions on race do, with us hunched over the table having a Seinfeldian back and forth on whether we should be discussing it in the first place.

As I wrote yesterday, I am of the mind that this is a disastrous policy, because even if we assume the policy is not intended to be discriminatory, the racial and economic makeup of the region will still frame it that way based on who can afford it and who cannot.

Further, as I was having an online discussion with another Redskins blogger, who shall remain nameless but whose name rhymes with pin skatrol, it dawned on me that if this new policy truly generates the negative attention of which it is capable, might it not spill over into Dan Snyder's other Prince George's County business, Redskins Stadium? With the cost of attending Redskins games placing the team 120th out of 122 pro franchises in affordability rating, might that not have the potential to make Dan look like he's trying to get PG County coming and going?

How much of the menial labor required to make 90,000 ticketholders happy comes from PG County, and what is he paying them? Considering Circuit City just fired 3400 people making anecdotally no more than 19 dollars an hour for inside customer service because they were 'overpaid,' I'm guessing 12 dollars an hour of less. Maybe they are union, I don't know, but the point is that he charges 25 dollars to park, 7 dollars for a beer, pays a few dollars to sling burgers and now wants 200 dollars for private enjoyment of his amusement park and it all could look as though he is lining his pockets specifically on the backs of PG County residents, where they can least afford the diversions.


Anyway, Mrs. Folsom had a different take on the matter. She thinks the market will take care of itself when it comes to multi-tiered access models. If Dan gets through a whole season and there have only been three takers at the VIP price, then we pretty much know it's not a popular policy and it will probably be ended. If there are hordes and it generates no negative attention, then it will persist and if it does result in negative publicity, they will end the policy out of social economic concern.

But the really insightful point she made was this: what happens when a posse of dudes in a couple of Escalades show up, and it's not Tom Cruise or P.Diddy? What if I stop thinking about this as an economics problem that plays out as a white-back problem and think about it purely as an economics problem?

And PG County is tough these days. It's leading the area in homicides with 11 in the last 11 days, and PG County executive Jack Johnson has forced nine PG County clubs to shut down, accusing them of being "magnets for violent crime."

If you troll through the DC area, many car dealerships and used car lots have signs out that say they will not accept 'drug money.' Leaving aside the question of how one tells when one is being given drug money without considering discriminatory factors such as skin color or whether the buyer 'looked like he should not have been carrying around ten thousand dollars in cash,' if a bunch of tough-looking dudes wants to come in to the park and pay cash for the entourage, will the park accept it? If they then quietly changed the policy so as only to accept credit cards for VIP access, would that constitute fair business practices or discrimination?

We already know that policies that say management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone are not enforceable 100% of the time and trial-lawyer apocrypha says that you can walk into a reputable establishment in rags acting weird and when they throw you out you can immediately start planning on how you and your attorney will spend the discrimination suit settlement.

Escalade from here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Curly R Caption Contest: Joe Gibbs and Norv Turner

Nice shirt Norv. Joe's been hitting the gym.

This picture accompanied today's Washington Post story on the continuing Lance Briggs rumors. It was taken at the NFL's annual meeting, a three-day affair this year in Phoenix. It depicts Norval Turner (Redskins head coach 1994-2000) talking and gesticulating to Joe Gibbs (Redskins head coach 1981-1992, 2004-present) with Mike Shanahan (Broncos head coach 1995-present, possible future Redskins coach?) in the background.

Is Norval giving Joe coaching tips? That would be a bit like Ron Jeremy giving Anthony Hopkins acting lessons (ok not really, we love Norval, I was just looking for a way to drop in a Ron Jeremy reference and besides, Andy Reid is much more Ron Jeremy-like than Norval anyway).

Or is he saying, hey, you member how Marlene would get so tanked out on coke and barbituates then old man Cooke would start shouting and we all wondered if today was the day he stroked out? Good times.

Leave your captions in comments. Winner will be announced Monday and will receive either a vintage limited edition two-button analog PS/2 mouse or vintage limited edition Joe Theismann poster. He's dead to me now.

Joe, Norval and Mike from here.

"They didn't want to be included with the masses."

Who do you think will be the big consumers of privileged access at Six Flags PG County?

I wonder if Dan Snyder has any idea how bad the new VIP program at his Six Flags parks will look once implemented into Six Flags Prince George's County. This season, the parks have a new admission tier: pay a fixed price, 199 dollars per person in PG County, and the patron is entitled to

one day's admission , preferred parking, meals, snacks, games, reserved seating at shows and "front-of-the-line ride access."

The VIP Program includes a private meeting and complimentary photo with any of the park's costumed characters, such as Bugs Bunny or Batman.
Demographics matter when making business decisions. A look at the US Census website reveals a great deal about the Washington area, and how the racial and socioeconomic conditions vary by locale.

So the socioeconomic outcome is that an access tier is being created in a public location in Prince George's County where the racial makeup skews the heaviest black in the Capital area and the median income is 70% that of Montgomery County and 65% that of Fairfax County.

No I don't think there is overt racism at play here but that doesn't mean the outcome won't be discriminatory. Dan is just trying to find his ways to gerenate incremental revenue which is fine but this new process literally segregates customers in a way that due to the racial and economic diversity in the Washington area will fall on racial lines.

The Post story calculated a family of four at the VIP rate vs. a family of four at the base rate. If we adjust generously for over-priced food and tchotchkies, it's still over twice the price to get the VIP treatment, which explicitly includes access not entitled to the masses, no matter how long they are willing to wait in line.

How would you like to have to tell your kid that he can't meet Bugs Bunny or Batman like that kid over there because that kid's dad paid extra? The kids that would care about a picture with a guy in a spandex suit won't understand money and just think it's not fair and those little social injustices are what lead to resentment and accusations of discrimination.

It's incredibly stupid and evincing a lack of awareness of and sensitivity to the local market and we will be reading about it in the Washington Post again, whether it's Donna Britt or Marc Fisher in the Metro section or a piece in the A section on racial and economic disharmony in the Land of Fun.

If you are at Six Flags PG County this summer and see lots of distracted blackberrying white dads trailing bratty private school kids on private tours cutting to the front of the line of black kids on summer camp field trips then you know the program was a success.


Update 30 March 2007: Additional comment on the Six Flags policy here.

Demographic information from US Census Bureau: PG County, DC, Fairfax, Montgomery County

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not Ready to Let This One Go Yet

Tony Kornheiser is more important than Joe Theismann

Think about that.

Joe Theismann from this site chronicling the career of Eagles defensive end Jody Schulz.
Tony Kornheiser detail from photo here.

Shaving Cream Pie in the Face!

Looks ok to me

Last night, my intrepid co-blogger Brandon witnessed recovering Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson get nailed in the face with a shaving cream pie by backup catcher Robert Fick, on camera, mid-interview during a spring training game against the Mets. Like a baseball player accustomed to playing 162 games a season he soldiered on and finished the interview even as he cleared the foamy lubricant from his mug. The guy is recovering from a broken femur so he could easily have been a baby but he wasn't. It's pretty funny, hopefully someone will YouTube it.

This reminded me of the time when rookie #36 Sean Taylor got cream pied by linebacker LaVar Arrington at 2004 June minicamp. Washington Post:

During Gibbs's final minicamp in early June, Taylor became the victim of a prank that caused a scare. Linebacker LaVar Arrington had sneaked up behind the rookie and shoved a shaving-cream pie into his face. Taylor was momentarily blinded before getting treatment, forcing him to miss practice the following day because of eye irritation.
He shrieked like a girl and brought the whole practice session to a halt. It got some play on area radio and was compared to when Patrick Ramsey was tied to the goalpost with duct tape his rookie year (there was a picture of that in the Post, so it's floating around somewhere). Here is the original story. Note with appropriate irony that this is a Micheal Barrow intro piece. He never played a down for the Redskins. Even as LaVar was leaving the Redskins a bitter man two years later Sean still could not let it go:
We'll miss [LaVar]," Taylor said. "We'll see him in competition. I wish him all the best. At least I don't have to worry about the shaving cream."
I am also reminded of the time Charles Barkley had to miss the 1994 season opener with the Suns because he er, rubbed lotion into his eyes at an Eric Claptop concert (TimesSelect). I never knew LSD came in lotion form.

Photo by Brandon Kriner

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tony and Joe Really Are Great Friends

Really, we are

Following up on yesterday's story about Joe Theismann getting unceremoniously shitcanned from Monday Night Football because of Tony Kornheiser's delicate ego, Dave Hughes at the great blog of DC radio and TV happenings, is reporting that on his show today on Mormon-owned Bonneville Radio's Washington Post Radio WTWP that Mr. Tony had nothing but praise for Joe:

On his Washington Post Radio show Tuesday morning, Kornheiser said that he liked Theismann, who was officially handed his walking papers Monday by ESPN's Monday night football telecast. "We got along very well. We get along very well." Kornheiser added that Theismann, already a pro in the football broadcast booth, helped him adjust to his new duties as "MNF" color commentator last season. Theismann was "thoroughly professional" and will "get a lot of offers" to do other sports shows, Kornheiser said. "He was very kind to me"...
Yeah right, lots of offers, but as Tony would say, none of them here and all of them worth less baby.

I'm pretty sure future generations will find this tidbit in the DCRTV archives here (the page does not exist yet).

Image from here.

Bennett Zier: I'm outta here prick

I did my time now it's time to put that guy in the rearview

Sixteen months after leaving ClearChannel to help build Dan Snyder's Red Zebra radio network, CEO Bennett Zier is gone. For those that do not know, Red Zebra Broadcasting is the company behind the network of five radio stations (three weak-signaled in DC plus one each in Richmond and Norfolk) plus original programming, such as it is. Bennett is leaving quote, to pursue "opportunities on a broader scale," unquote.

I think this indicates Dan's Triple X ESPN Radio has topped out for the time being and Bennett is ready to move back to bigger things. Prior to his move to Red Zebra, Bennett was the regional VP of ClearChannel's DC-area operations, featuring eight real and diverse stations, including WTEM SportsTalk 980, the station Bennett launched in 1992, and Triple X's main competitor.

Bennett may see the writing on the wall that Dan is congenitally unable to perceive. For a time there was a second sports talk station in Washington, SportsTalk 1260 WWRC. SportsTalk 980 runs the ESPN slate of programming (and some local stuff) and SportsTalk 1260 ran the Fox Sports lineup (plus some ESPN filler). It didn't work out and 1260 became the liberal talk station affiliated with Air America (Randi Rhodes, Rachel Maddow) and Jones Radio (Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz). Apparently the market determined that Washington cannot support two all-sports radio stations.

So instead of making big money licensing the Redskins broadcasts out to one of the big local stations with complete area coverage (CBS Radio's 106.7 WJFK had the last local contract to broadcast Redskins games -- at 10 million dollars a year and declined to renew after the 2005 season), Dan decided to buy up smaller stations and work them into a unit and pocket all that advertising revenue himself. Well if you don't have Sirius and want to hear a game over the air it's tough because 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and 730 AM all have relatively weak signals.

94.3 and 92.7 were Spanish-language stations broadcasting in the latin tropical music format but once CBS-owned Infinity Broadcasting shut down Lanham Maryland-based WHFS 99.1 FM and rebirthed it as El Zol, playing the tropical style with a much stronger signal, El Zol crushed 94.3 and 92.7 so Mega Communications sold out to Dan Snyder. I remember 730 AM as the AM dial broadcast of WCXR Classic Rock from high school (that was in the 80s kids) and was more recently CNN and business news. In 2000 Mega Communications bought the station and converted it to the latin tropical format before selling to Red Zebra.

Here is a coverage map for the three stations. One is far off to the west, one to the east and don't be fooled by the AM coverage map. After 5pm, 730 AM is required by license to drop its power down so low that it's almost unhearable even in Alexandria where it's broadcast. Red Zebra has applied for a license to upgrade the AM signal, but it's still in review.

Dan had plans to acquire two other stations and put them into Triple X, but those transactions were called off. I wonder if this decision not to continue expanding was what pushed Bennett out the door.

Like the mad monk Rasputin though, Dan Snyder pops back up after every attempt to knock him down. One day after the announcement of Bennett's departure, Red Zebra announced that Bruce Gilbert was leaving his position as general manager of ESPN Radio to take the top spot at Red Zebra. Bruce is no rookie, having overseen an operation that runs stations in five cities and generates some of the most popular sports radio programming in the country, beamed to dozens of affiliate stations nationwide. This signals to me that either Dan Snyder is serious about continuing to expand and evolve Triple X, or that he has enough money to pay someone to make it look like he is serious about expanding and evolving the brand.

The big question I would have as an amatuer radio analyst is, what value is the network offering? Are people listening? Is Dan seeing a return on his investment? According to the Washington Post (op. cit.), Triple X accounted for less than one percent of the radio audience last fall, which was basically the same as ratings when they were all latin beats.

So CBS decided not to renew the Redskins at 10 million, they would have for perhaps slightly less and Dan could have pocketed that, risk-free and moved on. But no, Dan is the guy that thinks he can wring more out of every endeavor than you. If CBS was once willing to pay 10 million to broadcast three hours a week five months of the year then it must be worth more and he just set about his way of extracting that extra return. By spending millions on radio stations and staff to run them.

Does anyone else think Dan Snyder, with plans to expand Johnny Rockets by 1000 stores, fifteen times the expansion curve prior to his acquisition, and a 10 million dollar opportunity cost radio empire consisting of three weak-ass radio stations with little original programming (John Riggins is out of there just as soon as the bigs call him up), might be headed for a big investment correction some day?


A final note, for a guy that made his money in communications and marketing, Dan's Red Zebra Broadcasting website is really pitiful. One image, no links, no station lineup, no programming lineup. Over at Triple X ESPN Radio, the network moniker for the collection of radio stations, the site is better, but too...busy and derned if I can't find any original programming in there except the John Riggins Show and the Bram Weinstein Show.

(Hat tip to the inestimable blog of DC radio and TV, for the original rumor on Bennett's departure)

Bennett Zier from here.

I Have a New New Favorite Blog

Setting the tone in Dallas

(Hat tip to lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder, Cowboys hater and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery for the link)

Image from

Monday, March 26, 2007

Theismann Bounced from MNF

Are you freaking kidding me?

I can't believe this. Oft I have given of harshness to Joe Theismann but never have I thought he was a bad analyst. As something of a football Puritan, I like his serious demeanor and his knowledgeability and all that more than outweighs his proclivity for distancing himself from the Redskins and that funny way in which quarterbacks always seem to relate everything on the field back to the quarterback position.

So I just cannot believe ESPN has sacked Joe, and not only that, it was a surprise to Joe and it happened for the sake of keeping Tony Kornheiser! If you needed more conclusive evidence that Tony is an infighter and an insider, this is it: Joe was not unhappy with Tony per se, but rather unhappy that ESPN would bring a clown into hallowed territory. This therefore reflected on Joe's opinion of ESPN management, not specifically of Tony Kornheiser. Management came down with Tony, an insider's insider and that was that.

Joe was the ESPN Sunday Night Football analyst from its second season on ESPN in 1988 through its last, the 2005 season. That's 17 years the network has entrusted him as the face and voice of football analysis. 2006 was the first season since its inception in 1970 that Monday Night Football was not on a broadcast network, having moved over to ESPN cable and the Sunday night game moving from ESPN cable to NBC broadcast. For the move, ESPN sent Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire packing and brought in Mike Tirico as the play by play guy. After a long tryout season, Tony Kornheiser was selected to be the third guy, a decision I wrote about in August 2006.

The mention of Ron Jaworski as Joe's replacement is interesting because Ron is a player from Joe's era and someone I also consider to be a good analyst. Whereas Ron does not have Joe's blow-dried look or his limp, their styles are very similar. They both tell you what's happening now on the field and neither of them is a particularly funny. If they are trying to lighten the mood by bringing in someone with less of a sense of religion about football, they are making a huge mistake because Joe Theismann just loves to being Joe Theismann. Ron Jaworski, that guy lives in a bunker and reviews game film for a living.

So this is all about personalities. That tension that you thought you felt between Joe and Tony, it was real. No doubt Joe felt deep contempt for silly bits like Tony! Tony! Tony! and for all the things Tony did that made the product not about football but rather about Tony. I am with Joe in that the product sells itself and if I want a festival atmosphere I'll go work for the carnival. Tony is not a national phenomenon outside the demographic ESPN already owns, and look what happened last time they went outside football looking to expand viewership (oof, Dennis Miller stinking up the joint).

They just cashiered a field general to protect a politcal appointee.


Spence at War Cry is ahead of me on this story and I disagree with his first point on the Tony-Joe friction. I do not think Joe disrespected Tony's knowledge of football. Tony is not and never will be a football analyst, he comments on the sport. Once he was elevated to columnist status he never again had to know anything about football other than how to churn out 1000 words on deadline. I can respect that, since Curly R is written as much in opinion format as it is in straight reporting format. It's not that I think Tony knows nothing about football, it's that I know Joe has been following the league, players, teams, strategies and tactics very closely for 20 years. Tony has not and their analysis roles in the booth were clearly delineated. I think that Joe disrespected Tony's presence in the first place, which amounts to Joe questioning ESPN management's original decision to bring him in. Joe did not win this infight and he's out.

I will agree with Spence's second point, and that is that Tony is the one that should have been booted. Hell, I thought after the Dennis Miller debacle that the right way to attract a diverse audience would be to bring in a guest boothie on a rotating basis. One or two games and done. That way over the course of the season you could bring in the football gods, the comedians, the stars of the new shows, people we did not know knew so much about football and keep it fresh. Week after week with Dennis Miller going off on those ridiculous historical references, I'm surprised Al Michaels never went R. Budd Dwyer on us.


Update 27 March 2007: Tony has nothing but praise for Joe on his radio show the next day.

Tony Kornheiser, Mike Tirico and Joe Theismann: Jim Mone / AP from here.

Blogger Funky Today?

Someone's got a case of the Mondays

Blogger appears not to be calling a number of the images loaded into some recent threads. This is not the first time this has happened and I'll just wait the day and see what happens. Last time this happened I thought some diabolical force had excised all the images from my work so I re-loaded them and then late in the day they all came back and everything had double images so I'll just let Blogger get its shit together.


Update 26 March 2007 11pm: no problem. Firewall issues with screening images.

Skunk from here.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Matt Schaub Traded to Texans; Michael Vick Vain Not Stoned


This is a follow-up on Matt Schaub and Michael Vick.


In a classic case of be careful what you wish for, the Atlanta Falcons have traded quarterback Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans where he will be paired back up with his old UVA teammate Wali Lundy. The Falcons receive the Texans' first (#8 overall) and second round picks in this year's 2007 draft and their second round pick next year's 2008 draft. The Texans get the Falcons first round pick (#10 overall). Matt then signed a six year, 48 million dollar contract that included seven million in guaranteed money.

Matt finally gets to be a starting quarterback. For the worst team in the league. The Texans are so bad they passed on Reggie Bush and Vince Young. Once he was injured and put on IR, recently-cut Texan Domanick Davis went into the Running Back Protection Program and changed his name to Domanick Williams. He'll now have a career as an unassuming third-down back, probably in Florida or Arizona somewhere.

David Carr? The number one overall pick in the 2002 draft and the only starting quarterback in Texans history, went 23-53 over five seasons and was sacked 249 times. Houston wanted to trade him but could not find a taker and released him and Domanick Friday. This won't make Jake Plummer happy. The Broncos traded him to the Buccaneers last month and Jake said he'd retire before playing for Tampa Bay. The only place he would accept is Houston, now led by his former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Guess the feeling there wasn't mutual...

The Dolphins are one of the suitor teams looking at David. New Miami head coach Cam Cameron's defensive coordinator is Dom Capers, the first coach of Texans. Wouldn't it be hilarious if the decision to sign David was influenced by the defensive coach? Lil bit of that old 4-12 black magic a couple seasons in a row and every body is back on the street. Oakland, increasingly becoming the very Black Hole it is famous for at home games, is the other team interested in talking to David.

How bad did the Falcons screw this one up? All the signs were there that Matt should be the Falcons starting quarterback, today and in the future. His offensive coordinator and playcaller for two seasons at the University of Virginia was former Redskins quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, a disciple of the west coast-style spread offense. Jim Mora Junior was his only head coach in Atlanta, Jim Junior also an offshoot of the spread offense from his seven years in San Francisco under Steve Mariucci and Dennis Erickson. Cripes the Falcons even brought Bill Musgrave back as quarterbacks for the 2006 season! (op. cit.)

Sadly though, the Falcons are saddled with Michael's contract, a behemoth (op. cit.) that they have no practical way to get out of, short of just swallowing a bigass pill. Back on 1 December 2006 I traded 5 Questions with Dave at The Falcoholic and he had this to say about the Michael Vick-Matt Schaub situation:

Owner Arthur Blank definitely cares about winning, but Vick makes him so much money that he's not foolish enough to get rid of him. Schaub has a good arm and good instincts, but there's no guarantee he's not another Doug Johnson, who basically sucked after the first couple games he played...But Vick isn't going to be riding the pine unless he becomes so awful that they can't win any games at all...Until Vick gets better, however, it's going to be fair to say that Blank and the team care more about money than winning. I can't entirely debate it.
It was clear that, despite hiring a coach that ran a system requiring a quarterback with skills more like Matt's than Michael's, Arthur Blank insisted on Jim Junior playing Michael. No wonder Jim Junior wanted out of there so badly he said so on live radio (op. cit.). A real coach with a real staff, stuck with a guy in Michael Vick that can't run a gameplan, can't manage a game, can't control his own anger and who isn't a winner in the NFL.

Good for Matt. I just hope the Texans can get better around him.


In other news, Michael Vick says the water bottle with the false bottom that was confiscated at the Miami airport in January (op. cit.) was not actually a stash box, it was a secret jewelry box. The container tested negative for marijuana and Michael thinks at the minimum he is the victim of a bad rap in the media and at worst was set up by TSA to look like a druggie. Michael was coincidentally in Miami at the same time his brother Marcus, a Dolphins player and disgraced former Virginia Tech quarterback was fighting a sexual battery and emotional distress lawsuit by the now-seventeen year old that he er, had relations with when she was fifteen, and continued to er, have relations with even when caught and a judge made him promise not to.

I'm not a publicist and I'm not a lawyer but Michael Vick is one of the highest profile athletes in this country and to believe that he was the victim of some set-up by barely-conscious TSA employees or some resentful press is beyond ridiculous. He could have come forward at any time and held a press conference, and I am guessing AirTran Airways, for whom Michael is, or was, a regional spokesthlete (op. cit.) fairly begged him to come out and clear himself, this is if they did not cashier him immediately.

I mean, it's plausible, right?. Athletes get ripped off jewelry and cash all the time. In hotels, out of luggage, even in the locker room (Albert Connell, anyone?).

No the reason we did not hear about this until now is because Michael himself was not sure the tests would come back negative. He kept a low profile and hoped for the best.

In other Michael Vick news, apparently Michael thinks new Falcons coach Bobby Petrino is eventually going to let him call his own plays. (op. cit.) Ha! Not unless they are from Doug Flutie's playbook: drop back, send everyone long, dodge til there's an open man. If that fails run.

I give Bobby two seasons.

Matt Schaub at UVA from the Sabre here.

Hokie Dead turkey from here.

Arch Deluxe Off the Menu

A failure of management, not of a burger

Never still, the intrepid reporters at Curly R have traveled from Martinsburg West Virginia to Greenville South Carolina the past week to bring you the most comprehensive Redskins news and stories anywhere. And now the news.


I'm behind the story on this one but I wanted to add my thoughts on the Adam Archuleta Experience. The particulars of the story are thus: Adam and the team agree to postpone a 5 million dollar bonus to explore 'options.' Waters stir, rumors abound, trigger is pulled, terms are revealed, phyiscal is passed, the moment ends.

Now in the rearview it is appropriate to examine what happened. Adam is 29, healthy (but don't know what's the deal with the ankle surgery) and known as a hitter. He was a key part of a Lovie Smith defense in St. Louis that was decent to above average (start here). Lovie wants him back and expect that Chicago will be improved at free safety next season.

This whole thing was a miserable experience and I would not be surprised if Adam was in fact Tom Friend's source for the Thanksgiving 2006 ESPN piece on team discord and further I would not be surprised if by 'widely believed by team officials' the Washington Post means 'the team knows and told us as much but also told us to let it die.' If you wanted evidence that the Redskins just wanted to get on with it, they exchanged a sixth round pick for the biggest safety's contract in the league, ever. The Redskins will be taking that 4.7 million dollar cap his this year and loving it.

As lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery is fond of reminding me, one measure of a team's success is its ability to turn low draft value into high draft value. AJ Feeley, for example, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2001 draft, got stuck at third string in Philadelphia but showed enough that the Dolphins coughed up a second round pick for him that turned into Reggie Brown, a starting receiver still with the Eagles. (The Eagles again got the last laugh because the Dolphins proceeded to trade AJ to the Chargers for Cleo Lemon and a fifth rounder before the 2005 season, then the Chargers released AJ after 2005 and the Eagles got him back before 2006 for nothing.) Compare this to the Redskins conversion of Rod Gardner and Patrick Ramsey from first round picks (2001 and 2002 respectively) into sixth round picks (Rod after the 2005 season and Patrick after 2006). Now toss Adam for a sixth rounder on there and you have three offseasons in a row to put together evidence of gross incompetence by the team.

Here is what I think happened. With no 'football guy' filter between the coaches and management, the coaches just signed up the 'best' guys at the needed positions and assumed they'd be able to coach 'em up. A football guy takes into acccount not only a player's straight up skills, but also how his skills would work in the context of the current roster and coaching staff. But there was no football guy, just Gregg Williams and Joe Gibbs with one foot on the sideline and one asscheek in the owner's office.

It's a failure of planning on so so many levels. The team did not plan properly for the skills Adam would bring to the team. The team needed a coverage safety and signed a hitting safety. Because they thought they had their coverage safety covered in free agency, the team went out and drafted a hitting safety, Reed Doughty. Sean Taylor doesn't sleep meaning he also doesn't miss games so the team thought they could risk a sixth rounder on a project to develop another player at Sean's position.

So when the Redskins went into the season and found out Adam could not deliver on expectations they were already shorthanded at the position and so were lucky to get hold of journeyman Vernon Fox. One failure led to another and the final failure was a terrible defense that couldn't stop a cruising toddler.

I also do not put it past some smallmindedness on the part of numerous individuals within the organization. Adam may have gone all Dana Stubblefield on the team, first year of a big contract, new team, new city, lots of money and maybe not really into it. Tom Friend tells us that safeties coach Steven Jackson and cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray were in conflict and that Gregg Williams did little about it. Les Carpenter tells us that Gregg Williams cares so little about how much you make that he feels the need to tell you he doesn't care how much you make which of course means he totally does and maybe isn't beyond resenting you for it and certainly won't cover your ass if it makes him look bad.

A fuckup of memorable proportions, like getting up to give the best man's toast and when you realize your drunk with nothing prepared you begin to mumble then fall off the stage and twist your ankle.


Media coverage of Adam's departure: Skin Patrol has the original extra crispy story wrap now with more Redskins blog reaction. Hogs Haven also covers Adam's parting words via Washington Moonie Times. Stay classy all y'all. Jason La Canfora makes the macro point to my micro point about problems compounding. If Ryan Clark and Fred Smoot were not let go, less than none of this would have happened. I appreciate his candor especially since he has to deal with the team personally. Skin Patrol has a long take on it as well.

Adam Archuleta: Michael Connor / Washington Times from here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wrong; Wrong; Maybe

Ever been beat down cowboy style?

This started as a comment on Hogs Haven but got too long-winded and I have my own blog so what the hell.

Skin Patrol reports about ESPN via ExtremeSkins that three former players, Joe Theismann, Merril Hoge and Eric Allen, have made some early predictions for their 'surprise' teams. I think they are crazy. Indulge me.

1. Merril Hoge, an eight year NFL veteran from 1987 to 1994, has the San Francisco 49ers as his surprise pick for the 2007 season. He says Frank Gore will get more big yards and Alex Smith will continue to improve, and that the 49ers acquired some talent on the defensive side of the ball.

Surprise Merril you're wrong and here's why:

They'll be not as good because the mind behind that offense, Norval Turner, is no longer the offensive coordinator, having shipped off to be the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Although the 49ers have been active in free agency, the problem they'll have in 2007 is getting the thing together. Norval does outstanding work when the only thing he has to deal with is the offense. He's relaxed, can focus on the game plan and let the position coaches handle the personalities.

After getting the boot from the Redskins in 2000, Norval spent 2001 as the offensive coordinator for Mike Riley in San Diego. That was LaDainian Tomlinson's rookie year. LaDainian ran for 1200 yards, the Chargers had a balanced attack and were in the top half of the league in points, passing yards and rushing yards.

After Mike was not retained, Norval did not wait around to see what happened so he went to work for his old Dallas co-coordinator Dave Wannstedt as Miami's offensive coordintor. In 2002 the Dolphins were in the top half of the league in points and passing yards and led the league as a team in rushing yards as Ricky Williams led the league individually.

In 2003 the Dolphins won 10 games but took a step back offensively even as Ricky Williams led the league in attempts (meaning even as ground production slowed, Norval stuck with the run game as the major component of the offense).

In 2006 as the offensive coordinator of the 49ers, Norval led his offense to the number six position in rushing yards on the back of second year player Frank Gore.

When the Cowboys and Chargers came calling, the 49ers did their best to keep Norval, offering him a pile of money that was obviously not enough inducement to stay. Norval's departure forced head coach Mike Nolan, a defensive specialist (he was Norval's second defensive coordinator in Washington) to elevate quarterbacks coach Jeff Hostetler Jim Hostler to offensive coordinator. Jim will be in his third year with the 49ers and has been with four NFL teams in seven seasons as a pro coach and has never been a coordinator. He predates Norval in San Francisco and is not a Norval's Way guy by heritage. How much of Norval's Way rubbed off on Jim remains to be seen.

On the defensive side, former San Diego linebackers coach Greg Manusky was hired to replace the fired Billy Davis as defensive coordinator. Greg has never been a coordinator.

Conclusion: The players will have improved from another year of being together and from decent free agency moves, but the guys that call the shots for the main units have never done this before, other teams will exploit this and so I expect the 49ers will not be much better record-wise in 2007.

2. Eric Allen, a 14-year NFL player from 1988 to 2001 has the San Diego Chargers as his surprise team for 2007, arguing that the strawman 'lot of people' have written them off for next season already due to coaching upheaval. Marty Schottenheimer was fired after the Chargers lost in the playoffs, owner Dean Spanos saying that Marty and GM AJ Smith were barely on speaking terms (I still think they fired the wrong guy, but then I'm a Marty Schottenhomer), the coaches scattered like roaches in kitchen light (Wade Phillips to Dallas, Cam Cameron to Miami, Greg Manusky to San Francisco and Rod Chudzinski to Cleveland) and Norval Turner was brought in to be the head coach after not getting the nod in Dallas. Still with me on this?

Surprise Eric you're wrong and here's why:

They will not be as good because they were already 14 and fereaking 2 and they tampered with that not only by bringing in a new coaching staff, but a head coach that can't manage people, does not inspire players and most importantly who loses his offensive edge when saddled with the minutiae of being in charge.

Despite professed similarities between Cam Cameron's offensive system under Marty and Norval's own (Cam learned Norval's system as Norval's quarterbacks coach in Washington and Norval actually brought the system to San Diego in 2001 and Cam was hired to carry it on for the Chargers and so now Norval is replacing the system that was installed to approximate the system he installed before the system that he installed was replaced with a look-alike system that he is now replacing, how's that for an infinite regression), how did that work out for two other Don Coryell descendents with similarities in their systems, one Joe Gibbs and one Al Saunders?*

So in addition to the possibly false promise of system continuity, Norval also has a head coaching problem. That being, he's not great. We all know about his time with the Redskins, so we won't belabor it (op. cit.) except to say by the end the players were going through the motions and there was no cohesion, so let's look at Oakland. Al Davis hired Norval to coach the Raiders before the 2004 season. After logging the number two scoring offense in 2002 (and losing the Super Bowl), 2003 saw a collapse (Rick Mirer was exhumed and actually threw 220 passes in nine games for the Raiders after former Redskin Rich Gannon hurt his shoulder) to the bottom of the league. Bill Callahan was fired after two seasons.

Unfortunately for Norval the team did not progress in any meaningful way. 2004 found the Raiders in the bottom half in scoring, passing yards and rushing yards (the Raiders were actually the worst rushing team in the league in 2004, with the fewest attempts and fewest yards). Rich Gannon got hurt again, a serious neck injury resulting from a helmet-to-helmet by Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks and gave way to Kerry Collins. Charlie Garner gave way to Amos Zereoue and nothing worked. Rich retired after the season.

2005 was not much better, and was worse in a way because even though 2004 had been derailed by Rich's injury and settled the quarterback situation on Kerry, the team just made no headway. Kerry remained the starter and Amos Zereoue gave way to Lamont Jordan, but the team remained in the bottom half in scoring, passing yards and rushing yards. Whatever mad genius Norval brought from Miami was gone. The team seemed to have no cohesion, Jerry Porter and Randy Moss already were not getting along and what the Raiders needed was a strong sideline personality and not a chin-scratcher. Norval was fired after compiling a 9-23 record in his two Raider seasons.

Conclusion: The San Diego Chargers may be a stable roster of players coming off an excellent 2006 season, but a team can take up to a full season to adapt to a new coach and new system no matter how 'similar' it may be to the old one. Complicating this problem is the team's selection of a head coach that is not a people person and whose teams seem merely to tread water. They tossed out a guy that wins 61% of his games for a guy that is 58-82-1. The only surprise about next season's Chargers will be to what degree do they underachieve. And I agree with Skin Patrol; it's not exactly risking your place in the establishment to predict a decent 2007 for the Chargers.

3. Joe Theismann, a 12-year NFL veteran from 1974 to 1985, all with the Redskins, thinks Washington has found its quarterback in Jason Campbell and they are his pick for surprise team in 2007.

I don't know if you're right Joe but if you aren't here's the reason:

This is Joe Theismann's home-district time of the year. During the offseason Joe gets to be a shameless Redskins homer, postulating on how good they could be and how personally meaningful it was for him to play on a good team that featured him personally (an infinite loop of self-aggrandizement). He does not have the national platform of ESPN football to live up to in the offseason and so in his national and local media puts he wuvs the Redskins. Contrast this with his blatant efforts to appear non-homery during the season whenever forced to comment on the Redskins.

In the offseason we get to remember the Joe Theismann who brought gutty football to Washington. That's why we get pissed but never turn our back on Joe because even as he bashes the new Joe Gibbs for overconservatism we never really believe he really means it, kind of like how Dick Cheney suffers vile anti-gay rhetoric from his political party during the day only to go home and hug his gay pregnant daughter, have a Scotch with his gay daughter-in-law and be really psyched about another grandchild.

Regarding the quarterback situation, Joe Gibbs' second go round in Washington has been uneven. Upon arrival Joe affirmed Patrick Ramsey's position as the starter then went out and signed Mark Brunell to a seven year, 43 million dollar contract that was totally uncalled for. Then as if by magic Mark wins the starting job away from Patrick then loses it to thunderous boos nine games later. Patrick goes 3-4 to end 2004 and is the 'named' starter for 2005 and gets all of one series in the opener before getting the Shuler Treatment and Mark is back in the saddle. The cycle started again in 2006 with Mark getting benched after nine games to raucous boos whereupon we finally see Jason Campbell who goes 2-5 to end 2006 and is the 'named' starter for 2007. History suggests Jason may get between one series and one half in the 2007 opener before we see the Return of the Son of Mark Brunell Part III: From Hell.

Conclusion: no coaching changes and the only major player change so far in the offense is the loss of a starting offensive lineman who is to be replaced by a former backup means the real hope of Redskins fans re: the offense is that they simply 'do better.' Joe Theismann also bleats out the 49ers as his safety pick for 'surprise,' so see also Merril Hoge above.

The Curly R has covered Norval in some detail here. I have placed a reminder in my Google calendar for one year from now to evaluate how close I was in critiquing these predictions.

* Ok so I see here that Ernie Zampese, Norval's mentor, did a pretty good job replacing his protege in Dallas after Norval left to coach the Redskins: 40-24 over four seasons with a Super Bowl in there, but that lil factoid about a mentor replacing his protege and succeeding does not fit with the high tone nor narrative certainty of this piece and so we will simply note it here in the agate type where it is not officially a part of the piece.

Image of Office Space printer beatdown (PF load letter!) via Philadelphia Weekly here.

Norval Turner: uncredited AP photo

Joe Gibbs: uncredited AP photo from here and given the logo on his jacket, this photo would be from the 1982 season

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bonus Material: Snyder Xanadu

Behind the scenes at The Curly R

Occasionally, Curly R will bring readers backstage for a peek into the minds that give life to this enterprise. This is a companion piece to Curly R's Avarice that Consumes All Things, examining Dan Snyder's nanny troubles and his history of disdain for little people and 'their' rules. This post is provided at no charge to readers and will come in the form of a hidden easter egg on disc 2 of Curly R: the Motion Picture starring Taye Diggs as Curly R, Tom Cruise as Jason La Canfora, Christian Bale as Hogs Haven, Dame Edna as Dan Steinberg, Dakota Fanning as Hog Heaven and Billy Bob Thorton as Wilbert Montgomery.


One of things I like most about creative writing is the discovery portion. Thanks to teh internets there is a nearly bottomless repository of information at our fingertips, all of it linked, either explicitly by hyperlinks and subject matter, or implicitly by human intervention in the form of searches and free association. As the edge of the internet, the interface and the stuff we see, continues more closely to resemble the underlying infrastructure of the internet, the guts that connect and route user requests between among and through networks, the human intervention piece in finding the related data begins to minimize, but the free association in relating disparate chunks of information increases.

Hence a simple search for soon-to-return-from-a-devastating-hit Trent Green's comprehensive Redskins statistics, which were tough to find because he took most of his snaps in preseason in a period where stats are not well represented on the web, morphs into a dissertation on a future past for Trent. Call it user aggregation, cut-ups, meta-derivation, whatever, it's continually pushing through the present limitations to find ways to tease out the next level of association. Rinse and repeat.

If you have not seen Citizen Kane lately, go and add it to your Netflix queue right now. Put the HBO movie RKO 281 right behind it and watch them on consecutive nights. The former film from 1941 is, peculiarly in my opinion, considered one of the greatest films of all time (I would consider it one of the most audacious for sure) and the latter is the 1999 meta-version of the film, chronicling the making of Citizen Kane: the sets, methods, writing and the deadlines. It also is the making of the making of the movie: the politics of movie studios in the 1940s, anti-semitism and a looming WWII, and the lengths to which newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst went to derail the movie, whose main character, Charles Foster Kane, is a thin fictionalization of WRH.

Beyond reproach in a looser regluatory era, William Randolph Hearst was a robber baron, a virtual monopolist, independently wealthy from family holdings in mining, ranching and forestry interests, and controlled media markets in every major city in the country. His political career stalled, WRH turned to his media outlets to support his political ambitions and pushed a sensationalist form of journalism designed to whip readers into division rather than to illuminate. He was accused of fabricating stories and rewriting other news outlets' stories and crediting them to nonexistent Hearst 'correspondents.' All the while churning red meat to his readers he was supporting legislative agendas that quietly benefited his fortune in non-media endeavors, as usual to the detriment of the common man.

Orson thought William Randolph Hearst irresponsible in his ways, using his empire to quell unfriendly voices, advocating for American intervention overseas all the while lining his pockets from other businesses and conceived of Citizen Kane as an expose of WRH's life, peering into the world of privilege and wealth where there is never any accountability. It's the same world where Tom and Daisy Buchanan live in The Great Gatsby. As the camera watches Charles Foster Kane disintegrate in Citizen Kane, so does Nick Carraway witness the reckless and indifferent behavior of Tom and Daisy.

Having before seen pictures of the Snyder mansion, which in Hollywood fashion is not merely a sprawling complex but a sprawling complex once owned by Jordan's Queen Noor, and still not big enough for the Snyders, the image of Xanadu, Charles Foster Kane's gothic castle on a 40 thousand acre estate in the mountainous 'the desert' of Florida came to mind immediately. Xanadu is of course the movie stand-in for Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst's 56-bedroom, 61-bathroom castle on 40 thousand acres in San Simeon California.

Iconographically though, I could not have anticipated the similarity in the image of the construction of the Xanadu scale set for Citizen Kane and the image from the May 19 2006 Washington Post story on the Interior official taking the fall for Dan Snyder cutting down the trees. Here are the images:

The construction of the model set of Xanadu for Citizen Kane, 1941.

Dan Snyder's mansion after the trees had been cut and the remedial saplings had been planted, 2006.

Note the weird symmetry of these two images. In the Xanadu image, boom machinery is in the foreground, whereas the Snyder image has trees in their place. Both give a sense of distance more than depth: the nominal subject of the image, the mansion house, is a long way from you and I, and maybe we don't want to be there.

Despite the apparent grandeur of the estate houses, the middleground is really the subject of both images. The Xanadu image middleground shows the desolation of the fictional Florida high desert, with scrub dotting the rise to the main estate. In the Snyder image the cleared floor of the stand of trees conveys the same desolation, with dotted scrub replaced by the vertical lines of the saplings. In the former image the scrub brush will never amount to much and if you are a pessimist, you might believe the the saplings planted in the latter, when mature might not really be big trees, but rather smaller native flowering trees like dogwoods or cherry trees, thus preserving Dan's ill-gotten view. In both images the middleground symbolizes the distance, or 'desert' between the men that own these houses and the men that gaze upon them from afar.

Finally as the image draws back to the background and the estate mansions themselves, we see large and imposing structures far away on a hill. Now the concept of castles and estates on a hill did not originate with William Randolph Hearst or Orson Welles, but the similarity in composition is striking. They appear to mirror images of each other, with the Xanadu estate house featuring the first-level additon on the right and the Snyder mansion with the analogous feature on the left. The feeling of height conveys the achievements of the men inside: they climbed the hill and now they are on top.

For reference, here is an image of the Hearst Castle in San Simeon California:

This image in comparison to the others reveals the difference between true excess and make believe. In reality the hill is higher than Xanadu's, the palace more magnificent and the grounds teeming with life. William Randolph Hearst would never need to cut down trees to improve his view; he simply built his abode above them.

Is Dan Snyder the modern incarnation of William Randolph Hearst and Charles Foster Kane? No. He is their simulacrum.

Backstage image from here.
Construction of Xanadu scale model on the set of Citizen Kane, 1941: Wikipedia from here.
Dan & Tanya Snyder's mansion in Montgomery County Maryland: Katherine Frey / Washington Post from here.
Hearst Castle in San Simeon California from here.

Avarice that Consumes All Things

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

As if the average Redskins fan needed any new evidence that Dan Snyder has a coarse and toxic indifference to the world around him, the nanny story has resurfaced and logged a new chapter. You may recall back in May 2006 the Washington Post (those Reliable Source hussies no less) reported that Dan and Tanya Snyder's former nanny was suing for 60 thousand dollars in back wages and 180 thousand dollars in damages. Although the details were somewhat sketchy, the case involved overnights at Snyder Xanadu and 6000 unpaid overtime hours.

Now, the jury in the Montgomery County case has handed the nanny a victory, sort of, granting her nearly 45 thousand dollars in back pay. No award for damages was mentioned. It's a nothing amount to the boy billionaire and for those of us living on Earth it is an interesting insight into the world of the super-rich and super-not giving a shit.

For instance, we learned that Snyder Xanadu is staffed by at least seven domestic employees and that the litigious nanny was not even the day nanny! Two nannies for three kids by two healthy parents of child-rearing age. These must be busy people.

But wait, the nanny claims that Tanya would stay in bed until midday sometimes if she had no 'appointments,' a claim Tanya disputes because she was just so "swamped overseeing construction on their new home" (op. cit.) that the Snyders could not afford to fire the woman that they distrusted but trusted with their children.

This all took place in 2003 and 2004, when the Snyders were adding a ballroom onto their house and something called a geothermal heating system into the back yard. And while Dan was illegally cutting down 130 mature trees along the Potomac to improve his view. Although he was ultimately found in an Interior Department report (PDF) to have done nothing 'improper,' and the matter was dumped on the Interior underling that capitulated to Dan's demands, the Interior report on the matter

does suggest that he had access to top Park Service officials that other citizens might not have had
and that the matter was improperly held from public debate.

If you will recall, Dan first tried to buy permission to cut down the view-impeding trees but when rebuffed turned to a lavish luncheon for Interior officials at Snyder Xanadu, a later meeting with Interior officals at the mansion and to stalking Interior officials at Redskins games, possibly even granting them access to the owner's box. (op. cit.) When all was said and done, Dan, a Republican donor, got the clearance he needed from the Executive branch agency, cut the trees despite being told twice he could not and then miraculously the blame was dropped on a bureaucrat who has conveniently moved on.

Other Washington Post coverage of the tree episode: Marc Fisher (great comments on this piece), Tim Craig.

Pressuring government officials and making secret deals just happens to remind me of the Redskins Road episode in Prince George's County. In 2003 and part of 2004, PG County forbade pedestrians from walking down Redskins Road to games, nominally over safety concerns and economic concerns as well. The county you see was worried that fans would park for free at Landover Mall, a violation of mall policy, and then get hit walking to the stadium and thus be unable to pay the fine for parking illegally. That blocking pedestrian access happened to created a need for the 5800 25 dollar parking spots leased by the team and connected to the stadium by dreadful shuttle service may be a coincidence.

The guy in this 2004 piece is right about one thing: I've been to dozens of Eagles games at Eagles Stadium with lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, and we have paid for parking exactly once. Jeff Lurie makes it easy and cheap and in so doing doesn't make fans feel like they are being raped through the wallet.

That pedestrian ban was overturned once, reinstated (both op. cit.) then overturned again. Now slackers with no parking pass can pay 15 dollars to park a quarter mile from a Beltway interchange. I never fully understood what Dan Snyder got out of the arrangement. Check that, we know what he got, he got the ca$h from parking, and the county got some kickback of some sort. Dan always tries to make it worthwhile to those in power as he seeks to set his own rules.

But I digress because we were talking about the abusing the help episode, not the flaunting his privilege and pressuring government officials to give him his way on cutting down trees on federal land to improve the view from his 10 million dollar estate, or the colluding with county officials to line his pockets with still more cash out of the pockets of Redskins fans episodes.

So as the nanny migrated from weekends only to nights and weekends, including frequent 24-hour shifts, her billing hours also increased. It is amusing to me that despite the nanny's stated night shift of 6pm to 5:30am (op. cit.), the Snyders never claimed that she was supposed to work 12 hour shifts and they she should not be paid for sleeping (op. cit.). But I am guessing that if one of the little monsters wakes up crying, falls out of bed or is sick that when the kid wakes up, the nanny is back on duty? Just because the kids are asleep does not mean the nanny is off duty but to expect to pay someone part time wage for full time work or that she should not sleep overnight when her charges are sleeping is not just wrong, it's dysfunctionally indifferent.

Despite his alleged business acumen, Dan never saw fit over 20 months to check on what he was paying the nanny and when he figured out she was making about 94 thousand dollars on an annual basis caring for his children so he did not have to, he actually said
You know, you make more than the Redskins Park people I pay
So this tells me a couple of things:

1. He doesn't pay Redskins staffers enough.

2. He is clearly and openly disrespectful of child care professionals. That he would turn around and realize he's given 162 thousand dollars to a...nanny? just makes him boil. He immediately told her to accept a salary rather than bill hours in what amounted to a 20 thousand dollar paycut. She refused and quit.

I paid a nanny to work in my household, caring for my kids during the day from the time they were six months until 18 months. She was worth a hell of a lot more than the 33 thousand dollars we could afford to pay her and if we could have tripled her salary we would have done it and she would still be working for us. And to put a context around Dan's attitude toward child care and where he gets it, the neighborhood ice cream shop in Alexandria pays 13 dollars an hour. The preschool my kids attend pays 10 dollars an hour for a substitute teacher, 12 dollars an hour for a teacher's assistant and 14 dollars an hour for a full teacher. These people, all women, care for the children of 40 families for three hours a day and they make less than an ice cream scooper and they do it because they love kids and because they can afford to. It's not a full time job and even if it were you can't live in Alexandria on 20 thousand a year. We treat the staff at the school with the utmost respect, get to know them as individuals, praise their efforts and listen to their evaluation of our children. I doubt Dan feels the same way about his kids' teachers and caregivers but then again he's rich enough not to have to.


I'm not going to go all BAGnewsNotes here, but look again at that image at the top. It's Dan and Tanya Snyder from 2003. What do you see? As news consumers know, photographic images can be used to editorial effect in tandem with a story, and the composition of the photograph itself can also make a statement. I am stunned at this Jonathan Newton photograph. In the center I see Dan and Tanya, Dan's body language says 'unavailable,' 'closed.' Tanya is next to him, sitting passive, accepting, plastic and with the stare of a Barbie doll, maybe appropriate for a former fashion model used to being looked at and not betraying of her inner thoughts.

Dan and Tanya hold hands, and their hands are joined over a Redskins logo, symbolizing the thing that makes Dan rich, and...desirable? Dan and Tanya met on a blind date (op. cit.) in 1993 when he was 28 and already a millionaire, set up by mutual friends. A year later they were married. How much love is there in this marriage and how much is imitating, play-acting, remember darling we hold hands in public.

Where are they? Redskins Park film room watching the draft? Some other venue? Around them is an open space. There is no one visible in the row with them, but there are programs on the arm rests, so those seats are intended for people. Are they avoiding the Snyders? Are the seats saved for guests arriving even more fashionably late than the highest wattage in the room, the Snyders themselves? In the foreround at left is a man with his back to the Snyders. Are they shunned despite fame and fortune? Then there are familiar faces in the room, so this is a Redskins event. Joe Bugel and Vinny Cerrato are visible in the next row at left, but they are not engaged in the image. Despite being the center of the image, the action is happening elsewhere, no one but the photographer is paying attention to the Snyders and they seem immobile, motionless, 'off' if they are not receiving the attention. There is iconography in this image.


For the bonus material related to this post, click here.

Dan & Tanya Snyder: Jonathan Newton / Washington Post from here.
Snyder Xanadu, Montgomery County: Katharine Frey / Washington Post from here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DC Shuts Down Georgetown Johnny Rockets

Dan Snyder's Johnny Rockets investment is getting off to a great start. The shop on M Street in Georgetown has been shut down indefintely for failure to containerize trash, failure to reduce the presence of rodents, failure to produce a current license and operating with gross unsanitary conditions that may endanger public health.

Personally I am glad there is someone still willing to stand up for the public's desire not to eat rat feces. Good luck with this Dan, you're not well known for your quality control.

Image from WTOP news here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bly Week

This guy reallllllllly annoyed me at UNC. He'd look good in burgundy & gold.

It's really flying now and the worst part is we may have to wait until June for all this to materialize.

Dre Bly wants to play in Washington. The Redskins want Dre Bly. The Broncos want the Redskins first round pick. The Redskins want some midround picks. Shawn Springs wants to play in Denver, Denver may covet Ladell Betts. Joe Gibbs says Ladell is staying, Denver won't help offset Shawn's big cap number.

There is a deal in here somewhere.

The Redskins were more than 8 million dollars under the cap before signing Ade Jimoh (won't be a large deal for him) and can create another 4 million by releasing John Hall and Renaldo Wynn. John is done, it's his turn now to wait by the phone for the Redskins kicker to get injured. Renaldo is a backup now, only had 14 tackles for the 2006 season and his position is the main target in the draft.

How the hell did the Redskins get from right at the cap at the end of the 2006 season to potentially 12 million dollars under? Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas got extensions that lowered their 2007 cap number and Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss all reworked their deals (this is the first time I have heard about Clinton and Santana).

The rub here is that with this much cap room and the team in good shape roster-wise, any potential cap hit incurred by cutting or dealing Shawn Springs is reduced.

I still stick by my position that Shawn is better kept as a high-priced part-time starter than cut outright, even if the Redskins salary cap can handle it. With regard to a trade, I don't fully comprehend the rules of trading when it comes to salary cap numbers, but it seems overly restrictive to hit a team for the traded-away player's cap number and the traded-for player's cap number. There must be something in there I am missing. I'll have to raise my hand at the next Mark Maske chat and see if he can answer that question.

Dre Bly is a former Pro Bowler, started all 16 games last season and made 3 interceptions, which is exactly as many as Carlos Rogers, Shawn, Kenny Wright and Mike Rumph combined for in 2006. Detroit, Dre's former team, was a dreadful 28th overall defense in 2006 (as measured in opponents' yards per game), and only rises to 25th in passing defense (as measured in opponents' passing yards per game). However, temper that with the usual dreck about a first-year coach whose specialty is the defensive line and yada yada I'm really tired today.

On the matter of trading the pick, I was at first adamant about the Redskins trading it for a package of lower-round picks, but then I realized the Redskins don't draft well, so why would I want to see the team stocked with draft picks that are likely to be wasted anyway? Unless there is a major shift in the team's philosophy or someone is brought from the outside to man the draft, the Redskins are better keeping the number 6 overall pick and taking a defensive lineman, since all the free agency thus far has been at linebacker and cornerback. The Redskins neglected the line to date because they still think they will have the 6th overall pick.

The core of any deal with Denver will be that pick for Dre Bly. Any other players or picks will be secondary. The Redskins can deal that pick safely, but only if they have a Plan B for bolstering the defensive line.

Hogs Haven has the broad coverage, Tandler's has the trademath.

All unlinked references in this piece are from this Jason La Canfora Washington Post story.

Dre Bly as a hated Tarheel from here.

Assembler Language

That close to worthwhile

I've been ruminating on the Shawn Springs thing here for a couple of days. If I see the situation rightwise, there are cap implications if the team releases him, cap implications of the team trades him and an injury prone veteran with a large cap number on the roster if the team keeps him.

Cutting Shawn is not the answer, since it will cost the Redskins 7 point 3 million dollars in cap room. Then you still have a roster spot to fill.

Cain't trade him before June 1 2007 since that will also cost the full 7 point 3 million dollars in cap room (op. cit.). A question to the footballologists: in this case does the cap number for any traded-for player(s) count as credits against this value? In other words, if a 7 million dollar number is traded for a 4 million dollar number, does the team then 'pay' a 3 million dollar cap figure to reach contract parity?

He is not interested in renegotiating, wants to get paid his full due for the year and is open to a trade.

So the Redskins should keep Shawn, unless the right deal comes along. It's better to have a part-time player (and that is what Shawn is at this point), a good corner for half the games than no corner and take the charge. After this season, the cap penalty for cutting him will go down by another slice of the signing bonus and it becomes more affordable.

Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven has a more in-depth look at Shawn's situation.

DISCLAIMER: I started this post last night and have not read today's Washington Post story on Dre Bly and the Redskins so don't tell me about it! I'll write about it later today. LAA LAA LAA I can't hear you!

Speaking of good deals, are the Broncos the Official Trading Partner of the Washington Redskins? Pat Bowlen cockblocked the Redskins from nabbing Dre Bly by sending Tatum Bell Detroit's way. Dre wants to play in Washington, Shawn wants to play in Denver (all three op. cit.). Then there is the matter of Ladell Betts, suddenly a hot trade property. And the Redskins have that sweet sweet sixth overall pick, which I think they should deal for a package of picks, or perhaps the right player. I have said before that I would like to see Ladell stay on this team, but his durability, success as a feature back and low cap number (5 years, 11 million dollars -- a pittance for starter quality) make him much more attractive as tradebait than Clinton Portis.

The Redskins might walk out of this Mexican standoff with the Broncos with a good player and some picks if they don't screw it up, but history tells us the Redskins get the business end when dealing with the Broncos.

Some Shawn Springs data:

The broken right scapula (shoulder blade) Shawn suffered in the next-to-last game against the Rams, the injury that ended Shawn's 2006 season, it's not the first time he's broken that bone. He broke it in a preseason game in 2003 and missed five games (references here and here; hat tip to Squidly for the pointers).

Before the 2004 season, the Redskins signed Shawn to a six year 30 million dollar deal with 10 million in signing bonus (a familiar-sounding contract) despite having missed 13 games over the previous three seasons. It was fairly well understood Shawn had the injury bug, and now it's kind of an issue. The cynic in me is wondering, what offseason ailment is Shawn not treating this year so he can get the team to deal with it in camp and heal on company time?


Yesterday I ran into in The Ragnarok blogger Thomas who covers the Vikings and was an inaugural 5 Questions partner back in September 2006. I asked him his take on Loveboat Freddie Smoot and here is his response:

[W]ell, considering he lost his starting job both seasons he was in Minnesota and he really liked to give massive cushions to receivers I can't say I'm going to miss him. Though I am sad we never really got to see the trash talker in Smoot come out in Minnesota,at least in the press.

Unless it was a coaching issue, I don't think he should be much more than a nickel back, but he'll be a decent one, and he did try a Lambeau leap after housing a Favre pick so he's still got the potential for some really awesome hijinks.
Not entirely unlike a postseason assessment of Loveboat Freddie after the 2004 season, before he left for Minnesota. Loveboat Freddie never quite delivered on the mouth and the promise to make us forget Deion Sanders (I wish I could). Now that the expectations are set that he is not Champ Bailey or Darrell Green, Loveboat Freddie can come here and be productive. Thomas doesn't think this is a loss for the Vikings, as Loveboat Freddie's replacement, rising second-year corner Cedric Griffin, "[is]not Champ Bailey by any means, but he'll more than get the job done."

Shawn Springs: October 31, 2004 AP Photo via Baltimore Sun from here.