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The Redskins-Post Relationship

By Andy Alexander

Several callers who read Sunday’s column about extensive Post coverage of the Redskins wondered about the relationship between the team and sports writers, following recent critical stories about ticket sales and ticket holders. In a story earlier this month, investigative reporter James Grimaldi revealed that the Redskins had been suing season-ticket holders who reneged on multi-year contracts for premium seats or skyboxes. Another Grimaldi story disclosed that the Redskins had sold tickets to brokers, who often resold them at higher-than-retail prices in the secondary market, even though the team has a waiting list for general admission tickets that has 160,000 names on it.

It would be safe to say that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has had an uneasy relationship with The Post over news stories such as Grimaldi’s. And he couldn't have been pleased with a recent Sports column by Thomas Boswell that began: "What have we done to deserve this? For 100 years, Washington has been blighted with some of the worst owners of pro sports teams that the United States has produced. Daniel Snyder of the Redskins is just the latest, though he is rapidly working his way up a list of ignominy that includes racists and rip-off artists, the vindictive and the vain, cheap town-jumpers as well as the merely meddlesome and incompetent."

Since Snyder's first season as owner in 1999, the Redskins have gone to the playoffs only three times. The Sports staff, reflecting fan impatience, has often written critically of the team, coaches and management. That's frequently caused friction. But Sports editor Matt Vita said the Redskins "have been more than helpful to our reporters and our columnists this season. They’ve been very accommodating. From where I sit, the working relationship of our beat reporters and the Redskins’ players, staff and coaches seems to be fine. And for me, that’s all that matters.”

The Post, like all news organizations that cover NFL teams, has chafed in recent years under league restrictions involving content on their Web sites. The Redskins and the NFL want to control as much content as possible. Thus, newspaper Web sites are restricted to no more than about 90 seconds of video a day, and the video can’t remain on the site for more than a few days. The NFL also prohibits media sites from posting game highlights, thus many must resort to posting video of interviews.

In my Sunday column, I quoted Redskins Senior Vice President Karl Swanson commenting on the loyalty of fans: “The stadium has been sold out for almost 70 years.” But when he read his quote over the weekend, he e-mailed to say that he had been in error. “It immediately hit me that I misspoke when we talked,” he wrote. “We have not been sold out for almost 70 years; we’ve been sold out for almost 50 years. We’ve been sold out since 1966."

Still, that's nearly a half century. Many NFL franchises are envious.

By Andy Alexander  | September 14, 2009; 11:28 AM ET
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If they were actually "sold out", then they would be able to re-sell tickets and wouldn't have to sue fans who wanted to get out of multi-year contracts.

A subset of the seats are sold out, but at least some seats are still available from the team if you're willing to pay the premium. That's not what I'd describe as "sold out".

Posted by: tegularius | September 15, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

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