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Skins lawyer says signs were poking fans' heads

Tuesday night was glorious for D.C. sports. The Wizards won their season opener in impressive fashion. Gilbert Arenas looked like the real Gilbert Arenas, the new guys showed strong, and Buckhantz offered up a season-opening Dagger. Across the country, the Caps came back to beat Philly, in what's shaping up to be an incredible rivalry. Ovechkin couldn't be stopped when he decided to win it, and the once-criticized goalie was way above solid.

And yet, here am I, writing about the Redskins and their fans. As always, I'll understand your frustration with me for this. But I sort of think the things I'm writing deserve to be written just right now, and I can only do so many things at once. I promise you that this will pass.

Anyhow, maybe you heard that the Redskins no longer allow signs of any kind inside FedEx Field. I thought I should offer up their official explanation.

"We DO have a prohibition against signs and banners in the stadium, and we don't care what they say, we take 'em down," Redskins general counsel David Donovan said in a truly gripping interview on 106.7 The Fan's Mike Wise Show Tuesday afternoon. (Listen to it here.) "They get in the way of other people viewing the game, and people get poked in the head. That stuff happens. We have an absolute prohibition. We don't care what [the signs] say."

Over the past 24 hours, I've gotten dozens and dozens of e-mails and other messages expressing outrage about this new policy. In the past four years, I believe I've gotten zero messages from fans of any local team complaining about obstructed views due to signs, and zero messages from any fans of any local team complaining about being poked in the head by signs.

I mean, poked in the head? By a piece of poster board? In a stadium in which people regularly stumble around, drunk, while holding, and occasionally tossing, BOTTLES FULL OF BEER? And you're trying to protect people from the poster board and the cloth banners?

Seriously, if you have tales of obstructed views due to excessive signage, by all means let me know, because I want to be accurate here. I've just never heard of it. You want to improve the game-day experience, cut out a few ads and add some more out-of-town scores. Stop playing Hail to the Redskins after second-quarter punts. Lower the food prices. Increase the video screen quality. Hire some people to direct traffic. Don't worry about the head poking quite so much.

So anyhow, Wise told Donovan of an e-mail he'd gotten from a fan, whose sign sending love and best wishes to her son husband, a Redskins fan in Iraq, had been confiscated and trashed by security.

"Well that's kind of my point, we don't care [what the signs say]," Donovan said. "Look, our security guys don't have a lot of discretion with these things. We've got a lot of security guys out in the stadium, we've got 90,000 people in the building, I can't speak to the specifics of this, I'm just telling you that they ask people to take their signs down, and I do believe that they are instructed to give them back at the end of the game. If that person's sign got thrown away, I'm sorry."

Later in the segment, the topic was raised again by an agitated Bill Rohland, who saw this as the Redskins trying to tamp down the criticism.

"C'mon guys, the notion that somehow we're trying to protect Dan Snyder from bad press is silly," Donovan said. "We've got The Washington Post, it has all the ink in the East Coast to print all the stories they want. With respect to what goes on in the stadium, I have personal knowledge of much of what goes on in that stadium. Certainly we took down banners. I know of four. Maybe there were a few more, but I know of four. With respect to t-shirts, unless there was something obscene on t-shirts, then somebody with our security got a little overzealous and I'll make sure that doesn't happen again....

"What these things commonly are, as you guys both know, is one story gets told and then somebody else tells the same story, and then pretty soon you've got four people recounting the same event as if it was four separate events."

Probably true, to some extent, but also irrelevant. Once is too many. I'll return to the t-shirts later, but for now, a bit more on the signs. The photo above is from Liz Angevine. Somehow while her Ovechkin sign was seized and ripped up, the Cruise sign made it through. "Every once in awhile I'd turn around and show it to the fans and of course there were cheers and applause," she said.

Then there was Jeff Lavine, who brought a Fire Snyder sign to the Bucs game, before signs had yet been banned. It was rolled up with a rubber band. When security tried to take it, Jeff said he'd been going to FedEx for 10 years and had always seen signs.

"No signs today," he was told.

As this was going on, he said, his brother managed to get inside with a brown paper bag, which they then converted into a sign to replace the confiscated version. See above.

Remember the woman with the blanked and the hidden message, written with tape? Her husband e-mailed me. He had a different two-by-two sign confiscated, but "guards didn't think to look at the inside of my stadium blanket," he wrote. "Sad statement on free speech in the Capital of the free world."

A forever Redskins fan I know well also told me that his 13-year old nephew had a sign seized on Monday Night. That'll make him a fan for life.

And then there's Jada Bello. She's the one who brought the sign sending love to her husband in Afghanistan. Here she is, before the game, with her sign. Needless to say, she didn't know about the rule. But she posted a comment on my blog. I'll quote it here.

I wrote the Hi to my husband in Afghanistan sign and it really made me mad when they told me i couldn't bring my sign in. [The owner] can sit his on his [behind] and not have to do anything while my husbands fighting in a war, missed the birth of his child to fight for his country and I can't even bring a sign to tell him I love him. I've been a die hard skins fan from the day I was born. It's getting really hard to be a fan anymore. We either need to do something or I will never go to a game again until Snyder no longer owns the team.

But look at the bright side, Jada. No one got poked in the head by your sign.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 28, 2009; 7:34 AM ET
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Whats the saying about when Dictatorships start getting into choppy waters? The start clamping down on decent.

Said it before and will say it again, can we get a protest or something going? Anyone want to pick up the ball on that one?

Posted by: alex35332 | October 28, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I won't lead it but I sure as hell will follow. Protest at Redskins Park, FedEx Field, the White House, anywhere, I don't care! SELL THE TEAM!

Posted by: von_bluff | October 28, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Just like Snyder, Donovan is an idiot. I'd like to hear his LAME excuse for removing T shirts.

The 1st thing everyone should do is to complain to the NFL commissioner about these thugs.

Posted by: Ireland2 | October 28, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Entertaining as the incidents and complaints are to read, here's something perhaps more practical: Since fans aren't going to stay away in large numbers, what's an effective form of protest and how does it get organized?

Posted by: marksabbatini | October 28, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

wiz looked great! eff the skins!

Posted by: ewww | October 28, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for putting in the token paragraph of non-Skins sports stuff for the week.

Posted by: Section117 | October 28, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse


I have been thinking about it and I think the Smartest thing to do would be figure out how to get a permit for a protest out at the lawn in front of RFK stadium (in that area between the road.

The reasons.

1. Its downtown so its easy for a lot of people to get to. The problem with doing it at Ashburn or FedEx is that no one is around there, you just about have to drive to get there and its Danny property so he will cause trouble. Also PG Police are probably in Snyder's pocket more then DC police.
2. It is by a symbol of what we all want the redskins to be again the sight of the glory days.
3. Press access is easy there.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 28, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I agree, I think a protest would really send the message home.

How long does it take to get a permit for protest? Hypothetically speaking...if the protest happened this sunday from 1-4 pm it would be interesting to see if the nfl programs would pick up the news to make it a national story and really put it in the spotlight.

I'm just saying...

Posted by: nick87 | October 28, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

And by the way...when do randy foye jerseys go on sale?!

Posted by: nick87 | October 28, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

One of the things about bans is that there are always creative ways around them. All this would take is a dedicated group of fans going to the next game. Each wears a tee shirt with one big letter on it. No way they can ban that, because it each alone is not any sort of offensive message. The fans enter the stadium at different times and different gates. Once in the stadium, they line up and the shirts spell "SELL THE TEAM".

What are they going to do then? Throw those fans out? Go ahead. Then you start a lawsuit for breach of contract (for ejecting the fans for no valid reason) or better yet, for defamation of character.

In any case, there would be even more publicity about unrest with the owner who shall not be named (TOWSNBN)

People like TOWSNBN don't get that trying to squelch dissent only makes the dissent louder.

Bring it on TOWSNBN, bring it on.

Posted by: AFanof47 | October 28, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Isn't David Donovan the same donkey that was suing the grandmother from VA for season tix, then got outed in the Post, then dropped the case, then said it had nothing to do with the Post article??

Good grief, where does Snyder find these people to inhabit the upper eschelons of his organization?

Posted by: p1funk | October 28, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

This is getting into full-on 1984 Newspeak/Big Brother territory here...Double-Plus ungood.

"We're not protecting Snyder from anything."
"We've never allowed signs at the Stadium."
"We've always been at war with Eastasia."

It's been a while since I've read the book, but wasn't the whole point of the Ministry of Truth to go back and edit history books? Tell me that's not like the Skins going on their website and re-writing policies that they've "always had."

Also, fans who do go to the games (stop!), should wear helmets and googles complete with a T-Shirt saying "To Protect from Lethal Sign Pokes."

Posted by: VTDuffman | October 28, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Just...Wow.

Dan, I know this isn't the most enjoyable run of the Bog, but I've always thought of it as illustrating the connections between fans, players and teams. And with the good/funny, there must be bad/ugly.

This stuff about how this big NFL team is just frightened by free speech is an incredible thing to observe.

Oh, you also missed the DC United awards reception complete with goofy awards and self deprecating humor.

Posted by: kolbkl | October 28, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Wow. I didn't think I could be any more outraged over this ownership.

Posted by: Sports_Guru | October 28, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Anyone remember or have a link of the group who is trying to get a million ppl to give $1000 to try and buy the team?

I think its well worth the money...although you prolly need 2 million ppl...

Posted by: aarseneault06 | October 28, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone remember or have a link of the group who is trying to get a million ppl to give $1000 to try and buy the team?

I think its well worth the money...although you prolly need 2 million ppl..."

Last time I heard, the organization was worth more than a billion dollars, so yes, they probably would need more people.

Posted by: VTDuffman | October 28, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh, you also missed the DC United awards reception complete with goofy awards and self deprecating humor.

Posted by: kolbkl | October 28, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

That required travel and money charged to the Post, both of which are problematic.

Posted by: Section117 | October 28, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The Redskins front office does not believe the fans are actually upset by the way we have been treated.

Please, call Jay Moore of the Redskins at 301-276-6095 to complain.

If you are really fired up, follow that up with a call to Jason Friedman at 301-276-6703. He is the VP of Tickets sales who sold season tickets to brokers and not to fans.

This is ridiculous. The on field performance is bad enough. The way we have been treated off the field is criminal. Put an end to it by calling. Thanks.

Posted by: rickste101 | October 28, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

It's time to start burning Redskins jerseys and tickets. Let Snyder sit in his stadium all alone.

Posted by: tarded2much | October 28, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Can we add David Donovan to the unholy Redskins trinity? Steinz, continue to hammer away. Snyder should outfit his security personnel in Brown Shirts so there will be no mistaking their intent.

Posted by: mjwies11 | October 28, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The 2 dopes don't get it. The way to get rid of the signs is to put a winning product on the field and quit screwing it up..Know nothing Vinnie will run the team to the ground. It's that easy Snyder. Win!! The signs will be gone and you won't need 6 cops standing in front of your box.

Posted by: dph60 | October 28, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I had a sign taken saying HI to friends in Coventry Ct, I had just visited. Not to mention getting elbowed in the head, on purpose by the way. by a JERK of an Eagles fan. I say we all give up our tickets and just go support the Skins on the road. Until Danny feels it in the pocket he will keep doing the sorry and sad things he does. HTTR.

Posted by: karl_grebe | October 28, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: VeloStrummer | October 28, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Let Danny take the team to LA. I'd rather have a bad team here with good, solid ownership than a bad team with Snyderatto at the helm. If the NFL will give Cleveland and Baltimore a second chance, they will give Washington a second chance.

Posted by: Diamondback1 | October 28, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Since signs are banned but non-obscene t-shirts get a pass for now, a bunch of fans should get together to spell something out with each printing 1 giant letter on their t-shirt. Think Seinfeld and Kramer going to the Devils game with Puddy. Each person would have to enter the stadium at differnt times through different gates. Maybe they will even have to turn it inside out to outsmart danny boy.

Posted by: cjzimm | October 28, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the fact the team had a lawyer on the radio explaining the policy rather than a PR person says a lot.

Posted by: blukens1 | October 28, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Diamondback1 posted: "Let Danny take the team to LA." You know... that's actually a GREAT idea!

I never thought the day would come that I'd willingly wave goodbye to the team I grew up rooting for, but sadly that day is upon me. I'm done with that Dali-esque facsimile of the Redskins. I'm actually embarrassed to admit I am a fan of what was once a proud franchise. That Oompa Loompa owner has forever tarnished the image of the Redskins, and the best thing for all involved would be for him to just up and move to LA.

Posted by: Satiate | October 28, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So explain this to me. I can go to a DC United game, where there a million flags, banners, and ven smoke bombs, and not once has a person been injured, but if I go to the Redskins game I have the possibility of being arrested for bringing a sign in. This sounds like North Korea. And the security guards are acting like the Gestapo. Here is a question. Why are people still going to Redskins games? I stopped going about 5 years ago, because it is not the same organization that so many of us grew up with. Rather then switch alligences, I have become a neutral NFL fan. Unitl Snyder leaves, I will never support the Redskins again.

Posted by: RedskinAddict | October 28, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

people have to stop going

until you stop, nothing will change people

just like this rat lackey Donovan, spewing lies and blatantly disrespecting people's intelligence expecting anyone to believe that garbage.

you get what you accept folks

Posted by: greatteamdan | October 28, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Snyder turning on his own (fans) is the beginning of the end... whether he realizes it or not....

Posted by: 1of9000 | October 28, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

So how does the "no sign" policy relate to security personnel insisting that t-shirt slogans, denigrating Danny the elf," also be removed?

Posted by: wiatrol | October 28, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Let teeny tiny Danny try to stop 80,000 fans from chanting "Snyder Sucks" at the next home game.

Posted by: wiatrol | October 28, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Snyder has slapped a Ferrari badge on a broken-down old Oldsmobile. These are not the Redskins. We owe them no more loyalty than they show to us. Snyder and his henchmen are easily the most unethical bunch of executives I've ever encountered. I don't think Enron sued their customers, denied them free speech, gouged them at every opportunity -- and all the while delivered an epic failure of a product.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | October 28, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I have been a rabid Redskins fan for over 40 years. I traveled to two of their Super Bowls. I wore Redskins jerseys to elementary school, junior high and high school. My family has had season tickets since 1964. I have stuck with the Redskins through some very bad seasons. I moved away from the DC area a few years back, but still fly back for a couple of home games a year and got NFL Sunday Ticket so I could see all the Redskin games. That is all over. I am disgusted by what the current owner has done to a once proud franchise and the contempt he shows to the true fan base. My family will not be renewing our season tickets next year. I will drop NFL Sunday Ticket because I don't want to contribute one penny to Snyder, even indirectly. I will no longer buy Redskins merchandise. I firmly believe that the only hope for turning this around is to hit him in the wallet as hard as possible. I encourage all true Redskin fans to do the same.

Posted by: jmiller13 | October 28, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I followed the suggestion of one of the postings above and called Jay Moore with the Redskins at 301-276-6095. He appeared interested in my information and claimed he is gathering comments from fans to send up the chain. Don't know if it will do any good, but if you feel like blowing off some steam in a constructive way, give him a call.

Posted by: jmiller13 | October 28, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Stop going to the games. That is what I am doing. I will never go to another event at FedEx while Snyder's in charge (unless Coldplay comes by, and that's another story altogether).

Seriously - can we get a game-time protest happening at the National Mall or something?

Posted by: EddieP1 | October 28, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Let Ovechkin call the plays."


If there is justice in this world, the Capitals and their fan-friendly owner will win a few Stanley Cups over the next decade, while the Redskins and their jerk of an owner will languish at 3-13 year after year. Who knows, by then the one-dimensional sports media in this town might actually wise up and remember there's more than one franchise in Washington.

Posted by: VPaterno | October 28, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

A massive protest would be great---everyone bring in a sign, as big as you can make it and still get by security.

Let's watch them try to confiscate all of them.

Fans need to have SOME fun....

Posted by: Bluefish2012 | October 28, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I read a post saying that security was escorting out people who were chanting a protest against Snyder et al. Is that true or was it a joke? Just curious.

Posted by: fan-o-matic | October 28, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Where does Snyder work, on a day-to-day basis, anyway? What about a march on his office?

Posted by: fan-o-matic | October 28, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to the caps game on sunday and holding a sign which says "I AM ALLOWED TO CARRY THIS SIGN. GO CAPS"

Posted by: j762 | October 28, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Protest at RFK! Message: "Fire Danny!" (Has a better ring than "Hire a GM!") I'm there. Sunday at 1pm. Put it in the paper or on Redskins Insider so folks know about it. Who's with me?

Posted by: jdsp2000 | October 28, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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