REDSKINS: Ex-'Sports Jerk' Dan Snyder takes a satiric sacking -- again. The cartoonist explains why
NOTE: This post, originally published Sunday, has been updated to include a short Q&A with "Tank McNamara" co-creator Jeff Millar.
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.
| 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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