Dan Snyder remembers growing up a Bullets fan
Daniel M. Snyder stood in a FedEx Field concourse Tuesday afternoon, wearing casual slacks, a Redskins parka and football gloves, and helping distribute around 3,500 turkeys to Prince George's County residents.
It's the sort of event that can help humanize an owner, and I suppose it did, to some extent. One man called out Snyder's name so effusively the owner blushed. Another older woman reached in for the sort of awkward hug we've all been a part of while leaving Great Aunt Bertha's. But as noted below, his post-turkey interaction with the media was sort of uncomfortable and brief and unenlightening, like interviewing a press release in a parka.
About two hours later, after news had broken of Abe Pollin's death, Snyder called into his own radio station - ESPN 980 - and did more to humanize himself than thousands of turkey giveaways could ever accomplish.
"When I was a little kid, we moved to New York for a while," Snyder remembered. "We had an uncle that passed. We lived with my grandmother. And we moved in, and my father was working a little bit in New York, and we would go across the street and get the newspapers that came out in the middle of the night when [the Bullets] were playing Seattle. [ellip] It goes way back. I mean, if you're a Washingtonian, you have to have loved Abe Pollin."
It's the sentiment of the day, and Snyder expressed it well. But it's harder to remember that there was a time - a time that continued until about five minutes before his death - when at least some fans had less kind words for Pollin. They complained about his salary scale. They complained about him changing the team's name and colors. They complained about personnel decisions. They complained about the championship drought.
"Unfair criticism," Snyder said at one point in the interview.
"I think number 1, being in sports now, I have such appreciation for his desire to win," Snyder also said. "The guy was the number 1 fan, and someone that DESPERATELY wanted to bring another championship to Washington, and you have to admire that. He was passionate. He was one of the first people to write me a letter when I first got the team and welcomed me. [ellip] It was very warm. I mean, he understood so well sports, and what it means to the fans."
Host Andy Pollin asked Snyder whether he and Abe Pollin ever discussed being the target of criticism, and while Snyder said they didn't, he said that he knew of the Wizards' owner's famous optimism.
"From my perspective, I think everyone knows how bad I feel for the fans of the Redskins right now," Snyder said. "Obviously we've disappointed everyone. We're REALLY sorry. It is what it is. We've just not performed, but I think from our perspective we'll get this thing going. But right now is a time of grief."
Snyder talked about how Washingtonians would "always, ALWAYS" remember Pollin's role in rebuilding Chinatown despite the "unbelievable risk" involved. He talked about growing up rooting for "The Big E" and "Wes. Basically, he sounded like a lot of other normal D.C. sports fans.
"I've always thought so highly of Abe, even before I owned the Redskins," Snyder said. "He's just been a great part of the community for so long, and a big leader, and someone I've admired. I think it's a real loss for Washington."
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