The strange case of Dan Snyder’s lawsuit

It is nearly impossible to live in or around Washington, DC and not be aware of Dan Snyder’s $2 million libel lawsuit against the Washington City Paper. In the suit, he alleges that the paper has an “ongoing campaign” to “smear his business and personal reputation.” Snyder and his attorney’s suggest that, while it has built up over time, the situation finally became unbearable with the publication of Dave McKenna’s article on November 19, 2010 entitled, “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.”

What has some scratching their heads is the target of the lawsuit. Mike Madden, Managing Editor of the Washington City Paper wrote, “Snyder sued the investment partnership that owns City Paper’s parent company, alleging that our November cover story defamed him.” The lawsuit was filed against the parent company of WCP’s parent company, Atalaya Capital.

The WCP’s Editor, Michael Shaffer described the situation in his article, “Bully pulpit: Why a sports owner’s lawsuit matters.”  He wrote:

“Still, when Snyder’s legal threats became public, it was at least partly a relief. We’d first learned about his displeasure back in November via a letter from Redskins General Counsel David Donovan. The missive wasn’t directed to our editors, who most people would contact with complaints. Instead, it was sent to the investment company that controls the media firm that owns City Paper. It included this doozy of a statement: ‘We presume that defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours. Indeed, the cost of the litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper.’”

David Carr, a former editor of the WCP and currently with the New York Times described the situation this way:

“Neither Mr. Snyder nor his executives ever got in touch with the newspaper or its editors, preferring to try to exercise leverage on the hedge fund that owned it. The effort to cut out the middleman and apply direct pressure on the ownership reflects a level of aggression that would have come in handy on the field during yet another hapless Redskins season.”

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Media and sports franchises make for strange bedfellows

Dan Snyder - Credit: Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution)

Many sports fans are familiar with the relationship between the Yankees and its television network, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports network, or YES for short. In fact, many of the newer generation of sports owner dreams of one day operating his or her own media outlet. This is mainly an economic exercise in that a media outlet enables them to more fully capitalize off of the value of their sports franchise, while creating new revenue streams in the form of media advertising dollars.

The Yankees have used their media outlet – and the fact that they are in the largest media market – to generate a significant amount of revenue that they can invest back into the sports franchise, in the form of player and coaches salaries for example. It is also important to note that Major League Baseball does not have the same hard salary cap as the other major sports, and teams like the Yankees can spend more than other teams. But I digress.

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NFL Week 13: Struggling Redskins search for a win in New Meadowlands Stadium

Can Donovan McNabb lead the Redskins to a much needed win? (Photo: AP Photo)

The struggling Washington Redskins (5-6) travel to the New Meadowlands Stadium to take on the New York Giants (7-4), who are currently tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East. The game, which is scheduled for 1 PM on Fox (WTTG), could be moved to a 4 PM start based on the NFL’s flexible scheduling policy. In addition to television, the game can also be heard on the Redskins radio outlets – ESPN Radio WTEM 980 AM, WWXX 94.3 FM and WWXT 92.7 FM.

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Have the Redskins finally turned the corner?

For the second straight game the Redskins have been able to win a close one. What appears to be most impressive is that they have done this while loosing two of their starting offensive linemen, while remaining very productive on offense. The fact that Campbell did not get killed against the typically tough Eagles’ blitz is a testament to how well the backups turned starters played. The coaching staff, showing their trust in Wade and Fabini, continued to let Campbell take shots deep. Maybe even more impressive than that is the strength of Campell’s arm. We often here about a quarterback with a strong arm – particularly leading up to the draft – but seeing how far Campbell throw the ball on a number of occasions and how effortlessly it came out is truly impressive. Once he learns some touch he will be incredible.

 

On the negative side, the defense which played well overall gave up a little too much yardage to Westbrook. In their defense, Westbrook had an incredible game – no doubt in part because he was playing in front of his home town fans – for much of the game his quickness seemed to be on a different level. On a number of occasions, he made some of the quickest Skins defenders grasping at the air. But, as the Monday Night Crew pointed out, it will be interesting to see if he can hold up under that type of workload for a full season.

 

It was also a little disappointing that the stone hands in the Redskins defensive backfield is a little contagious right now. Once they get better at catching the ball, or getting more take-a-ways in general, that defense has the opportunity to be special. One has to love the young core of the defense with nearly all of them making big plays when it counted most, accented by the big hit that Landry made on 4th down to end a potential game tying drive by the Eagles.

 

Prior to the season, a number of local sports media were talking about how bad the Skins “could be” this season. Based on last season, and some of the questions with the team that did not appear to be answered, it is not hard to understand why they would believe that. It is a long season, and a number of teams have started undefeated only to crash and burn later in the season. None of us knows how this season will finish for he Skins, but through 2 games they have been entertaining to watch and have provided us fans with reasons to be optimistic.

Redskins Recap: Redskins 16 Dolphins 13

How much we take from the Skins game today is a bit unclear.  What’s most important is that they won a very hard fought game against a team with a very good defense – at least based on past performance – and an offense that has the potential to be better than last year.  One game does not give a good indication of how a team will play over an entire season, but there were plenty of encouraging signs.  Here were a few things that I was impressed with:

  • Jason Campbell through a bad interception at the beginning of the game (and two overall), came back to make some big completions in a very tight game.
  • It was refreshing to see the Skins throw the ball down the field, which will continue to make things easier for the running game, and vice versa.  How nice it is to have a QB who can actually throw it further than 7 yards.
    Samuels played very well considering that he did not play during the pre-season.  He and Kendall look like they are going to prove to be a great combination on the left side of the line.
  • Stephon Heyer continues to prove critics wrong.  Called in to play due to Jansen’s possible season-ending injury and switching back to his natural RT position, the UFA played a great game.  While it has been pointed out that some (unnamed) scouts believe that he is not yet ready for the NFL, in a game in which the final score counted, he played well enough not to stand out.  If you have watched enough football and/or played it you know that an offensive lineman normally only stands out when they give up a negative play.
  • It appears that Clinton did not need to play in the pre-season after all!  And with him and Betts combining for over 140 yards rushing that production will only make Campbell’s job throwing the ball that much easier.
  • And while the defense gave up a little more yards then they would have probably liked, given that they were put in some short-field situations, they actually continued the type of play that they have demonstrated during the pre-season.  They gave up some yards in the passing game, but were able to hold the Dolphins to 13 points.

Moss, and many of his colleagues in the NFL, dropped way too many passes today.  (It was amazing to see the number of dropped passes today.  At times it was as if we were watching the first pre-season game.)  The biggest drop was by the Smoot-mobile, who had nothing but open field in front of him near the end of regulation.  Thankfully that drop did not come back to cost the team.  Speaking of Smoot, while he had a fairly good overall game, I’m sure others were surprised that he started over Springs.  Correct me if I am wrong, but Springs was clearly the starter following pre-season, but was only brought into the game during nickel situations????  What was this about?

Skins sign Randall Godfrey and release Lemar Marshall

Sometimes an unforeseen circumstance can set a number of wheels in motion.  I wonder if the signing of Randall Godfrey and the release of Lemar Marshall would have happened if Marcus Washington hadn’t been injured.  I also wonder if this signing gives some indication to how highly they regard other individuals.

 

With Marcus being injured, potentially for a while, the Skins would benefit from someone experienced that could play both inside and outside LB.  Enter Randall Godfrey who has played for Gregg Williams before – arguably played his best football under Gregg Williams.  Godfrey has mostly played ILB but has shown the ability to play OLB as well.  To make room for Godfrey, the Skins cut Marshall, which makes me believe that they made this move, in part because they feel comfortable with the progress that H.B. Blades has made during the pre-season.  Plus once Washington is healthy you can also plug Godfrey in as a backup MLB.

Rocky McIntosh: Star in the making?

Rocky McIntoshRocky McIntosh 

 

So far this pre-season the defense has been playing very well.  And one of the biggest surprises has been Rocky McIntosh – who barely touched the field last season.  Now it is only pre-season and most teams keep their offenses very vanilla, but he has been blowing people up so far this pre-season.  Only time will tell how well he plays once the regular season gets started, but he looks like a great addition – one made through the draft (what a novel idea).  What’s been most impressive is that he appears to be making plays, while playing within Gregg Williams’ system.  It will be fun to see this guy continue to develop, but he appears to have all-pro-type talent, but time will tell if he reaches his potential.