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WSJ: Interview with Dan Snyder

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Old 08-21-2008, 02:34 PM   #1
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WSJ: Interview with Dan Snyder

The Wall Street Journal: You have your hand in so many businesses. How do you these disparate kinds of ventures all fit together?

Mr. Snyder: They don't. The Washington Redskins is not only my passion, but for me it's part of my family. When I was 6 years old, I went to my first Redskins game with my father. He passed away about five years ago. We never missed a game. We have one goal and that's to win the Super Bowl.

Regarding all these other businesses, I am a businessman and I love brands. We acquired the Johnny Rockets restaurant chain and that's an enormous brand and small business, but we're going to make it into a big business and a big brand. We have a stake in Six Flags, where I am chairman of the board and we've got a great CEO in Mark Shapiro who's turning that around. Sometimes that takes a lot longer than you would like. (See article1.) Most things require patience. We're satisfied with the management team.

WSJ: In June you bought a radio station, WTEM, which is a very popular local sports station. There's some concern among fans that it might become a propaganda tool for the Redskins. What do you say to that?

Mr. Snyder: It's actually just the Washington Post. We have a problem in this marketplace with our local newspaper. There's a monopoly. I have no problems saying that. They have been losing circulation by the droves, losing advertising by the pound load and they are desperate to create controversy. They had a Washington Post radio business at the time -- it's since gone out of business -- that was a competitor. We did write them a letter saying obviously you're a competitor, so don't use your newspaper to affect the business. Other than them, you won't find any of that type of talk.

[Note: Leonard Downie, Jr., The Washington Post's executive editor, denies that the Post's radio venture, which ended nearly a year ago, influenced the paper's coverage of the Redskins. "Our coverage is always independent of both outside interests and independent of other businesses that the Washington Post owns," Mr. Downie said in a telephone interview. "Our readers expect that of us."]

WSJ: Are you saying there's a not a reason for concern?

Mr. Snyder: No, I think we're careful to ensure that content remains content. Eighty percent of the local talent -- on-air talent -- I don't even know, never even met. So they're doing their thing. They can say whatever they want. If we're winning, they're going to say good things and if we're losing, they're going to say bad things. That's life.

WSJ: How would you characterize your style of ownership?

Mr. Snyder: I'm a passionate owner who wants to win on the field and off the field.

I also think [the fans have] seen me grow as an owner. When I bought the club, I was 34 years old. I was much more naive and probably immature than I am today. Since then I've had cancer, my wife's had cancer, I've lost my father. I think I'm probably a lot more patient than I was when I first got here.

WSJ: Some people have described that as more micromanaging.

Mr. Snyder: That's interesting because the question of micromanaging is sort of the media speculation about what really goes on and not actually based on what goes on.

WSJ: So what goes on?

Mr. Snyder: I'm not in any of the coaching meetings. I never have been. I don't watch film with the coaches. I let the scouts scout and the coaches coach. What I try to do is help get the deals on the business side done. After the scouts and coaches come up with the grades, for example, on free agency, I'm the one that's eager to go sign the player and negotiate the contracts with their agents. When it comes to, 'OK, this is the player we really would like to have,' then I'm going to help with the help of the salary-cap people to make that work.

WSJ: Do you see the term micromanaging as being a media-driven one or do you think there are some people who think you might be a little too involved on a day-to-day basis?

Mr. Snyder: I probably was when I first got here.

Early on I probably didn't have the level of patience needed to take place when you're talking about this sport of NFL football, because it really is a building process. You build through free-agency and the draft and I think that if you can look over the years you'd see a lot of improvement over how the club goes about getting players and keeping players and re-signing our existing players.

Where I started I was too eager to immediately swing for the fence versus building the way we're building now for both the short term and the long term. Look at the way we've handled the development of our young quarterback [Jason Campbell], the way we've drafted additional players, this season the way we've handled re-signing a lot of our coaching staff and making sure that we kept a lot of the Joe Gibbs coaching staff. [Mr. Gibbs retired after last season.]

WSJ: Are you still in touch with Coach Gibbs?

Mr. Snyder: I talk to him probably every three or four days. We're good friends. He's very respectful of Jim Zorn being the [new] head coach.

WSJ: Gibbs's tenure wasn't the same is it was the first time around when he led the team to the Super Bowl. What do you make of that? Did his time pass?

Mr. Snyder: No, I think if you look in the last three years we made the playoffs twice. We got close. We should have beaten Seattle two of those years and I think we would have had a lot of fun playing Dallas. But I think we just didn't finish. We got close but didn't finish. It's a shame that Joe felt that at 67 he needed to retire again. He just felt that he couldn't give it everything, the commitment.

WSJ: How does Jim Zorn fit for you?

Mr. Snyder: Very qualified, very straightforward, someone that has tremendous leadership skills. I think the team, when you look at Joe Gibbs and what the team responded to, it was he was sincere and real. And Jim Zorn is sincere and real. There's no hoopla, there's none of this fake leadership

WSJ: Are there owners you admire?

Mr. Snyder: I admire Pat Bowlen [of the Denver Broncos]. He has a tremendous desire to win. And in the offseason, I get along great with Jerry Jones [of the Dallas Cowboys]. We have a lot of fun times together with our wives. We vacation together. But during the season, we are definitely enemies.

Questions for Daniel Snyder - WSJ.com
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