Rollin' Wit Da Danny
The Danny is back.
I saw him Wednesday night for the first time this training camp, with his usual pre-season posse. Maybe he's been around a time or two earlier this summer and I just missed him, but regardless, Dan Snyder's definitely no longer a constant presence around the team like years past. The owner just has not been seen much since the middle of last season.
Joe Gibbs came here and the team got good and Snyder began buying up theme parks and radio stations, so it's a natural progression. My first training camp covering the team, 2004, Snyder was in a suit and tie most every practice, either in a golf cart, under a tent or on the sidelines, watching intently. You couldn't miss him - the short guy in shades and the boardroom outfit - and sometimes he seemed close enough to the action to call a play or two if he so desired.
That's all changed. The limo is no longer ever-present in front of Redskins Park. He rarely makes any public statements and is no longer a fixture at practice. All of this, of course, would reflect Snyder's overall pleasure with the direction of the organization under Gibbs after years of foundering. That's why Wednesday night's sighting caught some of us off guard. We'd kind of become accustomed to him not being here.
Snyder's buddy, George Michael (the one from the Sports Machine, not Wham!) was back in the Entourage driving the elongated golf car, like Turtle taking Vinnie Chase to an audition. Snyder's wife was along as well, and the owner's right-hand man, Vinny Cerrato, was half-hanging out the ride, taking shotgun. Gibbs, no longer needing to be in the heat of every offensive play with Al Saunders here, took some time to chat with Snyder's wife during the session, while the ball was being flung around no less (that just would not have happened in the past).
Snyder looked relaxed in his Redskins' polo shirt and sweats (he's still rocking the shades, even though the sun was fading by the start of the 7 pm practice), and he and his wife had a long chat with Joe Bugel as the players began filtering off the field. It was all very casual and cordial. Lots of laughing and chuckling.
No one should take Snyder's reduced profile as any indication of a diminishing, passion, however. Plenty of people have told me he takes losses as hard as ever, and he's still crazy animated during Sunday afternoons. He's driven to get that Super Bowl ring, and he's probably closer to it than he's ever been before.
Is he close enough? We'll see come January.
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