It’s a mangled imitation of virtue in kindergarten, a picture scrawled with crayons of what he thinks the actual principle looks like, or at least what he thinks the teacher wants to see. “Look at me, I cleaned up my mess after I ate my snack!” Then he throws the crumbs under Johnny’s chair.
If the recent rendering of this farce is particularly annoying, it is because Snyder’s blatant recitation of his own unique nobility in aiding Indian communities was especially haunting.
“I have listened to. I have learned. And frankly, it’s heartbreaking, ”he wrote in 2014 before setting up his Original Americans Foundation, which was supposed to prove that his billion dollar company didn’t just pay lip service to his alleged Native American admiration. “It is not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native American people,” he wrote. “We have to do more. I want to do more. “
“I know we can’t fix every problem. But we have to make a difference, ”he wrote.
“When you talk to Native American leaders and community members face-to-face, it is clear that they need action, not words,” he wrote.
“With open arms and determined minds, we will work as partners to address the troubling realities that so many tribes in our country are facing,” he wrote.
“Because I take the importance of this matter so seriously, I quietly and respectfully began our efforts, away from the spotlight, to learn and receive instructions from the tribal leaders themselves,” he wrote.
And then, just as quietly, his team flipped their cash flow to the Original Americans Foundation.
The team donated $ 5 million to the foundation in its first year as public battles raged over the team’s controversial name and donated $ 3.7 million to Native American tribes. By 2016, the team’s donations were down 80 percent, and the foundation’s donations also fell. As other outlets reported this summer, donations fell more sharply in the following years and donations almost completely disappeared. Then, after Will Hobson of the Washington Post asked about harassment allegations last month, the team said it would stop funding the nonprofit altogether.
Now that the team’s name is no longer “a symbol of everything we stand for: strength, courage, pride and respect” – as Snyder once wrote – it is severing ties with the foundation and will instead “develop a philanthropic strategy, which has a lasting effect through our communities, which also include Indian communities. “
And why was the foundation created when its mission could so easily be incorporated into the team’s other charitable endeavors? Why has a foundation that was once a key part of Snyder’s urgent “action, not words” strategy has now been moved to the trash of discarded marketing brainstorms despite tribal requests for help with paying for coronavirus tests being declined?
Why? Because the point of every new idea this genius marketer comes up with is to calm the water that is still shaking from his last great idea. You didn’t like my Washington Football-branded leopard? Okay, but have you seen my face-eating Washington Football brand leopard repellent?
Our weather-hostile, visor-loving trainer is too flaky? We will find a pig-loving true believer. Our front office needs a real footballer? We’re going to hire this unemployed ESPN employee that our fans are suddenly loving. Our practically non-existent HR department has caused one scandal after another? Don’t worry, we are in the process of hiring new employees.
Our insistence that fans use our team credit cards to pay for their tickets is too predatory? Okay cancel it. Our ban on signs criticizing the Front Office is too Orwellian? Okay cancel it. Our plan to bill for admission to watch summer exercise is too inappropriate? Okay cancel it. Our refusal to remove the name of an avowed racist from the lower level of our stadium raises the alarm? Okay cancel it.
The culmination of this policy-by-PR pushback approach has always been Snyder’s approach to the team name. Years before he insisted in the US that he would never change the name, Snyder told CNN’s Bob Novak, “I will never change the Redskins name. You have my word on it. On top of that, it’s really what the Redskins mean, which isn’t quite out there. If you look at the facts, the facts are what it means, tradition. It means to win. “
When he finally turned around this summer – out of season, without enough time to properly rebrand – it wasn’t out of an appreciation that his heartfelt definition of the word wasn’t the only one in the universe. It wasn’t because the facts had changed. It wasn’t because linguists had made new discoveries or because Snyder had reconsidered the minimum number of offended people who were a problem.
It was because sponsors told him the name had to go. And so, barely two weeks after a “thorough review” of a name that had remained unchanged in its 20 years in the possession, Snyder announced that the name would be retiring.
Without the controversial name, there was justification for a foundation, the existence of which proved that the name was not just a convenience for raising money. Without the name, there was a heartbreaking connection to communities that once needed action, no words. Without the controversial name went the money that supposedly proved that fidelity to the controversial name wasn’t just about money.
The way to show that this wasn’t a game, that he wasn’t using human suffering as a prop in a longstanding corporate struggle, that it was about offering some form of compensation after decades of profiting from native imagery, was to offer this minimal one Funding effort for less than it costs to hire a linebacker named Kevin Pierre-Louis. But the world no longer demanded it, so why bother?
“The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation will serve as a living, breathing legacy – and a constant reminder – of the heritage and tradition of the Washington Redskins,” Snyder once wrote. The living and breathing part lasted less than a decade. The ongoing reminder was: Daniel Snyder will continue to stand for the principle as long as the principle is most convenient for Daniel Snyder.