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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 11/ 9/2009

REDSKINS: Ex-'Sports Jerk' Dan Snyder takes a satiric sacking -- again. The cartoonist explains why

By Michael Cavna

NOTE: This post, originally published Sunday, has been updated to include a short Q&A with "Tank McNamara" co-creator Jeff Millar.

A safe-for-prime-time "replacement" strip from "Tank" last August. "TANK McNAMARA" Enlarge Comic

The path toward becoming a national laughingstock of a sports franchise is typically a gradual one. The early signposts include increasing inepitude on the field and questionable leadership off of it, too. You know you're pretty far down the field, however, when the cartoonists show up to get in their licks.

If "TANK McNAMARA" is any indication this coming week, the Redskins are well into the Red Zone of comedic fodder. And it's not just their win-loss record (2-6), but the entire style of leadership that comes in for some visual blind-side blitzing.

Notably, the week of Redskins takedowns -- largely satirizing the front office's handling of head coach Jim Zorn's status -- will run in The Washington Post. (The Post has not published some controversial "Tank" strips; last August, the newspaper chose not to run a Michael Vick storyline that involved how the convicted dog-ring quarterback might be reinstated and/or punished by the NFL.)

Starting with today's strip, "TANK McNAMARA" will go "behind the scenes" to satirically suppose how owner Dan Snyder came to decide not to sack Zorn, but instead strip him of his play-calling powers. If anything, much of the humor springs from how barely parodic it reads at times, the implausible seeming now so plausible.

Reached to discuss the Redskins storyline, "Tank" co-creator Jeff Millar shared his thoughts with Comic Riffs:

MICHAEL CAVNA In all your years of sports cartooning and fandom, how does the Snyder/Zorn scenario rank for you, in terms of front-office absurdism?

JEFF MILLAR: Right up there. When the Colts Mayflowered their way out of Baltimore in the wee hours of the snowy morning, the logic of their actions stood firm -- they wanted out of there, and fast, and without Colts maniacs throwing themselves in front of the vans. An effort to unwrap the logic of Dan Snyder's recent decisions begin and immediately end with: "What is he doing?"

Snyder was practically a cast member of "Tank" in the early '00s. He's been quiescent recently, apparently storing up scenarios for booting a luckless coach out the door with as few benjamins in his fraying pocket as possible. However -- and I wish someone had pointed this out to Snyder during his quiet years -- sensible behavior from Daniel Snyder is of no value to crafters of a satiric comic strip about sports.

The plain nuttiness of carving the game into chops, flank steak and the two-minute drill practically brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. Sorry, 'Skins fans. Snyder set a week's material down in front of us. It's just business. According to The Post, there's still another guy calling select plays. To adapt Casey Stengel: "Can't anybody here coach this game?" Casey, yes. Apparently anyone who wants to, except the sitting head coach.

MC: Do you feel sorry for anyone in what some characterize as a fiasco?

JM: The fans, of course -- reeling, eternal collateral damage, by now on their front porches, looking down the street for the FEMA trailers to arrive.

MC: If either Snyder, Zorn or [GM Vinny] Cerrato had to go, which one would you like to see it be?

JM: It is in the interest of the Tank McNamara enterprise that none leaves. Snyder seems to be an owner along the Reaganesque, "I paid for this microphone" persuasion, who'll stay in that owner's box even after the flames lick up from the bonfires in the cheap seats.

(Reached to remark upon this week's "Tank McNamara," the Redskins declined to comment.)

Now, This isn't the first case of Tank-v.-Snyder, of course. In 2001, Snyder won "Sports Jerk of the Year" in "Tank's" annual fan-vote contest. Millar spoke about that "honor" during a 2004 Washington Post Q&A (with my former colleague and pal Suzanne Tobin). Millar said:

The contest is we invite readers at the beginning of each year to nominate someone as "Sports Jerk of the Year." This is someone who has distinguished him or herself as doing something that make him/her exceedingly unpopular. For example, Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins won one year, likely due to the participation of the Washington Post readers. He bought the Washington Redskins from the estate of a longtime, much beloved owner and, according to all accounts, starting kicking people out of windows and starting such unprecedented revenue streams as charging admission to training camp.

In addition, in 2001, not long after the reader vote, Millar and co-creator Bill Hinds discussed "the free and open election" in another Post Q&A.

Judging by this week's Redskins storyline in "Tank," Snyder may have a leg up on the strip's 2010 vote, to boot.

By Michael Cavna  | November 9, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  General, The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Bill Hinds, Dan Snyder, Jeff Millar, Jim Zorn, Tank McNamara, Washington Redskins  
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Danny should sack the entire team and hire the University of Florida club that has a long winning record. He has enough money to buy the school. Coach and all.

Posted by: msjn1 | November 8, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Shhhhh, MSJN1 -- The Daniel already did that once (UF coach + players) and it didn't work out well. Don't get him thinking about doing it again.

Posted by: tfirey | November 8, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

For a short, wonderful time, redskins stadium was called "The Jack".

Posted by: fm7319 | November 8, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Fire Vinny.

Hire a "TOP" NFL GM.

Let your TOP GM hire the HC - not you!

Keep your mouth shut and stay out of the way. You will be called when your check book is needed.

While you are staying out of the way - don't make "friends" with the players. They won't all be here long anyway and besides, your boyhood fantasies were different than what some of these players actually are. See Portis, your best friend, who undermined Zorn. By you supporting Portis' action, Zorn then lost control of "your" whole team.


PS. Portis will be gone SOON. Heck, he is done and is only still here because you didn't know what you were doing and signed him to ANOTHER long term GUARANTEED contract. Guess it was because he was your BEST friend and the closeness got ya, eh Danny? Mixed business with pleasure, eh?

Posted by: PinotNoir | November 8, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I think that "The Danny" should bring Matt Millen in as coach/GM. He would be wonderful as he did so well in the GM position in Detroit.

Does Snyder own the Clippers too?

Posted by: mortified469 | November 8, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope that the Redskins of the future will have little, if any, memory of the horrific,past days of Dan Snyder's ownership.

Posted by: JohnRice | November 8, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Several Gators could have gone pro but elected to stay & play for Florida. No, I think Dan may not have quite the stuff for luring more Gators up here.

Posted by: dkbain1 | November 8, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to the Tank strips this week, but at this point the only honorable course for Mr. Snyder is hara-kiri. Otherwise it's only going to be 45 more years of the same.

Posted by: andym108 | November 8, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Andym108 has a cogent point. Snyder is waaay young and wayyy rich. He's gonna live as long as Mr. Burns. He is Mr. Burns.

My ass burns . . . .

God help us all, we are going to be like the Lions, except ugly and stupid not charming.

Posted by: chocobear78 | November 9, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Every personnel and coaching decision has been wrong. Champ Bailey has been having more fun and a better career than Portis. I was behind that trade. Who knew that Portis' best years were wasted thanks to the coaching carousel. Now we have no offensive line, no coaching except Buges, one receiver, and half a running back.
We have nothing accept a few players here or there: the Rookie, the New Guy, the Tight Ends, Moss, Hall and Landry. The others are talentless or utterly demoralized. (Cue the Death March theme mixed with peals of laughter from Cowboy fans).

Posted by: chocobear78 | November 9, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I would like to read this week's "Tank" takes on Snyder and the Redskins, but it's just too much trouble to fire up my electron microscope so that I can make out the 1000 words per square inch that result from printing the world's most verbose comic strip in WaPo size.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 9, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

What a shame that the NFL owners will not allow the fans, by purchasing stock in a corporation, to own the Redskins. WE could elect our GM. Instead we have an ignorant "business" man who came to football as compensation for his lack of sports ability and background, knows precious little about football and worst of all doesn't know that he is ignorant.

A board of directors, elected by the fan/stockholders would never ever had tried to solve problems on the team by a "second set of eyes," then humiliate the coach midseason. I say boycott is the only way that we can rid the city and our team of our ignorant owner. Declining value and decreased sales of next years too expensive tickets may persuade the little rich boy to leave and let someone run the team for the fans. Snyder, please, please go away! You are among the most hated people in a city with some people who have loved the team.

Riggins is right. You management of our team should fill you with shame

Posted by: Sooner1 | November 9, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Snyder should buy the Knicks and take his horrible ways to that team. It's not like anyone would care. Including Knick fans.

Posted by: AldoFaCaldo | November 9, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Aldo -

As a Knick fan from the late 60's, I can tell you that James Dolan, the current owner of the Knicks, is just as bad or worse than Snyder, just less visible. He has also confiscated signs, and has ejected fans from behind the Knick bench (!) who were chanting "inappropriate" things. Like Snyder, a near inexhaustible source of cash (the Manhattan cable TV franchise.) At least Snyder has hired some coaches who were successful at some level - or at least likable. Dolan got Van Gundy to quit, and inflicted Isiah Thomas on the team fans - a vindictive little rat (same character as he had as a player) whose claim to fame to that point had been driving an entire LEAGUE (the CBA) out of business. Only Wes Unseld (who was at least a nice guy and NOT convicted of sexual harassment) might have a less distinguished GM/coaching record. No moron with twin titles of coach and GM assembled a worse roster of high price stiffs and got less out of them as Thomas.

As for the Skins, I'm a Jet fan - god help me. (Thank god I'm not a Lions fan - THAT'S suffering.) I've learned to take pleasure in watching football where I can - watch the draft picks, the promising free agent, etc. = and appreciating other teams who can actually play, and other organizations who have a clue of how to build a successful FOOTBALL business franchise. Otherwise, I would have hung myself long ago. There are 32 other teams out there, and at least 26 of them seem better run than the Jets (Woody Johnson - what an appropriate name - also likes to buy overpriced old talent, but so far, SO FAR, they have half of their draft picks every year, and have gotten lucky in later rounds.)

I would love a league takover of the Knicks. Amazing that it hasn't happened yet, considering other teams lose big time when the Knicks visit them, because NO ONE who is sober or not under the influence of mood enhancers or blackmailers would bother to buy a ticket to see their own home team play the Knicks. OK, maybe descendants of people who would watch Christians and others fed to lions 2000+ years ago ...

(I think pressure from other owners got Dolan to hire Walsh from the Pacers to run operations. we'll see how long that lasts before he meddles again.)

You just have to protest in every way possible: bad mouth the Snyder Bastard everywhere and at every opportunity; call talk shows (even the ones with his flunkies on his station); don't buy his merchandise; if you have season tickets, occasionally get together with other fans at some very public venue and burn your tickets; if you go to a game, wear the paper bags and spend nothing at concessions - resist at any and every level.

Good luck.

Posted by: bunga1 | November 9, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I've decided to root for the Steelers the rest of this year, and then see what the offseason brings to Ashburn.

Could someone from Pittsburgh pass me a Terrible Towel, please? I promise I'll give it back to you right after the Super Bowl.

Posted by: SkinsfaninNebraska | November 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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