Leonsis answers questions about t-shirt cannons
On the same day that one local sports owner filed a suit seeking $2 million in damages from the local alternative weekly, another local sports owner spent 35 minutes answering fan questions on his team's Web site.
Because I like uplifting stories of hope and change, let's focus on the second story for the time be, shall we? Believe it or not, that second owner was Ted Leonsis, and among the more pressing fan questions he answered was the one complaining that the Wizards's t-shirt cannon only reaches 15 rows up the 100-level seats.
"I know this is gonna sound silly, but we really do care about an ecumenical spreading out of giveaways around the arena, and we actually have someone who sits and makes sure that the giveaways are being equally distributed," he said. "And yes, our cannon can reach very high in the arena. I will tell you that we don't aim the cannon really really high because of safety issues. We've had some issues around the league, and safety is really the number one priority and deliverable, and so we don't shoot the t-shirts up really really high. It's nothing personal, it's nothing about where you sit, it's purely because we don't want anyone falling and hurting themselves. That's a decision that we made, and that's why we don't shoot the t-shirts up all the way to the back of the arena."
There's a lot there, some more serious than t-shirt cannons, if you can believe that. I guess I probably shouldn't just transcribe 35 pure minutes of Leonsis chatter here. But I sort of liked the part where Dave Johnson asked the fan question about whether this team is on schedule.
"I don't know. I don't know if we're on schedule," Leonsis said. "I don't think anybody knows. I think we need to build this team over a two-to-three year period. It certainly can't be rebuilt in 90 days. I know many of our fans can rebuild a team in 90 days, but it's hard. There's 30 teams that are all competing, and there are some really elite teams. And we're not an elite team.
"And so we've been unabashed and honest in saying we're gonna rebuild. And it's really hard. I empathize and I know how painful it can be, but the team wasn't rebuilding the last two years. They had an unbelievably high payroll, one of the highest payrolls in the league, filled with veteran players and they finished in the lottery. So I just have to look critically and say, honestly, this is the path we have to follow....
"I'm not naive. We need more talent....You only have one draft a year. I can't draft more players right now....I do hope that you believe that once a strategy is laid out and there's commitment to the hard work and the spending of money and the investment, that you'll let us do it. And that it's really easy for bloggers and media and fans to, after a loss, say trade this guy, get rid of that guy. We're not gonna trade young players for older players right now. I don't think that's in the best interest of the team. We have to believe in the young players, and let them have experience, and then see what is it we have. And so we have a long way to go to be able to judge critically what kind of team we have."
When the issue trade deadline was raised, Leonsis said he would not be involved, unless Ernie Grunfeld in some way wanted to deviate from the team's long-term plan. The owner said that his role was to "set strategy and vision," and that his goal was to be good in the mid-term and long-term, and to pay the dues in the short-term. This issue of rebuilding was raised again and again throughout the session, and Leonsis would not back down.
"Staring at the water boiling won't make it go faster," he said. "My goal is to get to the point where every game that we go into, we think we can win. And we have a long way to go. But once you get there, I think it's a real good place."
Well, that's one way to approach things, I guess. Watch the rest here.
| February 3, 2011; 12:09 PM ET
Categories: Media, Redskins, Wizards
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