With the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelling the federal trademark of the term “Redskins” for Washington’s NFL team, it appears that it is only a matter of time before the team is forced to change its name. In a landmark decision, the Patent and Trademark office ruled that the term was “disparaging to Native Americans,” and was therefore no longer eligible for protection.
Team Owner Daniel Snyder will appeal the ruling, and despite his insistence that using a previously trademarked racial slur to profit to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars is not offensive (seriously – his argument continues to be, “but we didn’t mean it that way!), this is not the worst thing Snyder has ever done. Here is a brief – if incomplete – list of Daniel Snyder’s “proudest” moments.
1. Snyder Exploits 9/11 Attacks For Profit
Aside from the fact that he imposed a $4 “security surcharge” on every ticket right after the attacks, the team commemorated the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in 2006 by selling cute little hats embroidered with the team’s “R” logo (not the scummy part) and a patch in the shape of the Pentagon with the colors of the American flag (also not scummy). Snyder charged $23.99 for the hats – more expensive than any other hat on the team’s website at the time (kinda scummy) – with no indication that the profits were to go anywhere but into Snyder’s bank account (that’s the super-duper-scumbag move). Washington was the only team to sell 9/11 commemorative merchandise in 2006 for profit or otherwise.
2. Team Sues 72-Year-Old Longtime Season Ticket Holder
Real estate agent Pat Hill held season tickets for Washington football since the 1960s, but was hit hard in the housing market crash in 2008 – making it a struggle to afford her $5,300-a-year seats and leaving her to get by on a $400-per-month social security income. When she phoned the team to ask if they could put off her 10-year contract for one or two seasons, they told her no – and then sued her for payment through 2017, plus interest, attorney’s fees, and court costs. Hill could not afford a lawyers, and the 72-year-old grandmother was forced to pay a default judgment of $66,364. Hill is one of 125 season ticket holders who asked to be released from multiyear contracts and were sued by the franchise between 2004 and 2009.
3. Failure To Pay Employees Full Wages
In 2008, when six of Snyder’s ticket office employees hired a lawyer with the aim of suing the team for unpaid overtime wages, they discovered (via some not-so-subtle messages from Washington’s attorneys) that the franchise had written into the contracts that labor disputes could not be taken to court; rather, the cases would be decided by the American Arbitration Association – an organization that been hired by the team. Further, the meetings were to be held behind closed doors with no public record of the proceedings. Then, to cap it off, all the employees named as plaintiffs in the potential suit were fired. Snyder would settle with the employees in 2010.
4. Wrecked A National Park
Snyder purchased the riverside home of deceased King Hussein of Jordan in the Washington suburb of Potomac in 2000 for the cool sum of $10 million. While the estate was pretty nice, Snyder discovered that he couldn’t see the river from his new riverside property – obstructing his view was a swath of tree-covered land that was owned and managed by the National Park Service. The park was designated as a national historic site in 1971, meaning that Snyder would be buried in paperwork at the mere mention of altering the land in any way. The law stipulated that at least 30 years’ worth of environmental impact studies would have to take place before any changes could be made. You can get the whole story with all the sordid details here, but the short of it is this: Snyder made a friend in the NPS and had the trees removed in 2004.
5. Screw It, There Are Way More Than Five
In 2011, Snyder sued Washington City Paper over this article by Dave McKenna. Go have a read; it’s a marvelous, piece-by-piece evisceration of a petulant manchild whose failures are not limited to professional sports ownership. The suit was withdrawn after 218 days, which was 218 days longer than necessary.
Nate Goodyear can be heard on “The Keith Brooks and Carmichael Dave Show” from 5:30-9am PT weekdays on KHTK Sports 1140.