15 May, 2023
Recently, SBnation franked the worst sports team owners of all time. This article is a summary of that post.
Dan Snyder’s reign of terror is now finished, like a lingering fart that has been let out of a tent. The Josh Harris-led group is prepared to purchase the Washington Commanders and bring the franchise back to normal. A deal to sell the team is now being negotiated. A footnote in history, Snyder will only be discussed in bar conversations 20 years from now when fans reflect on “the bad old days.”
One of the worst periods in the history of any sports franchise was Snyder’s ownership of the Commanders. He was involved in a sexual harassment scandal, defrauded fans, alienated fans, put a terrible product on the field, fought tooth and nail to keep the team’s racist nickname, and is still embroiled in a legal dispute that will determine whether or not he committed bank fraud. The man managed to make every bad decision a team owner could possibly make.
Oh, and to raise the worth of his house, he had 200 feet of old-growth trees cut down outside in a national park. Though it may not seem like much, I felt the need to mention that he also despises the environment.
Now that Snyder has been consigned to history, it is time to give him the retrospective he so richly deserves: Is Dan Snyder the worst sports owner in history?
The argument in favor of Dan Snyder being the all-time worst owner
What else can be said about this person? He’s awful. It takes a lot of work to reduce a once-proud franchise to a universal laughing stock, but that is exactly what he managed to achieve. Even if we ignore all the horrible off-field behavior we already know about, Snyder would STILL be recognized as one of the worst team owners ever.
Snyder fired Charlie Casserly, a beloved general manager who led the team to a Super Bowl victory in 1991, as one of his first decisions regarding the organization after acquiring the franchise. Vinny Cerrato, whose sole claim to fame was that he “plays golf with Dan Snyder,” took his place after Snyder fired him.
His audacious plan for the team included signing a number of players who were long past their peak and was more of an odd marketing gimmick than a sensible football strategy. As a result of Cerrato’s three significant acquisitions, Jeff George, Deion Sanders, and Bruce Smith, the squad went from being 10-6 and having won a playoff game to 8-8.
Snyder made a wise decision in 2001 when he hired Marty Schottenheimer, who demanded Cerrato resign in order to join the team, in an effort to change his course. Of course, this only lasted as long as a glitch, and Snyder sacked Schottenheimer, who had been successful in turning around the squad, since the coach had not sworn absolute devotion to him. Snyder then rehired Vinny Cerrato and hired Steve Spurrier.
With the Chargers, Schottenheimer had a 47-33 record. Before being dismissed, Spurrier had a 12-20 record.
A legendary string of coaching flops started with this. All of Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn, Mike Shanahan, and Jay Gruden were under the direction of Bruce Allen, who developed into a passable general manager. However, the most crucial prerequisite has always been that he was friends with Dan Snyder.
Instead of truly caring whether the team won or lost, Snyder spent the most of his time and effort battling to maintain the racial nickname of the squad and making money. This was a storied cautionary story for lousy ownership, and when we add his string of abhorrent off-field choices to the appalling lack of football success, we get a pretty nasty bag of trash.
How does Snyder compare to other bad owners throughout history?
In order to accurately assess how awful an owner can be, we need a rating system. I’ll present the CRAP now. Owners are ranked using four criteria:
Criminality: The volume of criminal behavior a proprietor engaged in
Ruckus: Unsportsmanlike behavior that harms the team
absurdity: A terrible personal history that turned supporters against the owner
Poverty: The standard of play on the field or court
Each of these is scored, with a 25 being the best possible score in each category. As a result, an owner can receive a possible 100 CRAP grade to indicate how awful they are. Many owners are absolutely awful, but these are a few of the worst, along with their accompanying CRAP ratings.
Donald Sterling was an abject failure. The Clippers were consistently one of the NBA’s most depressing teams during his ownership of them for close to four decades. Sterling was a notorious racist, so it wasn’t simply that the Clippers were bad.
For making discriminatory remarks towards Black and Hispanic renters in his properties, he was sued in 2003. He was sued in 2006 for allegedly turning away Black renters in Beverly Hills. Elgin Baylor sued him for racial discrimination in 2009.
The NBA handed Sterling a lifetime ban for his irreparable damage to the game, and when he was forced to sell the franchise, he complained all the way out the door.
He is, regrettably, still alive.
Until 2021, Sarver was a rather low-profile owner during most of his time with the Suns. The depths of Sarver’s misogyny and prejudice then came to the fore. This was a textbook illustration of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Sarver loved to portray himself as the nice person in public by opposing Arizona’s SB-1070 law, the nation’s strongest anti-immigration law. He was a different guy, though, when he was alone, frequently using the n-word, treating women unfairly, and meddling at work.
Goodbye, I say.
Although he was a terrible owner, Loria isn’t actually a criminal or a terrible racist. He owned the Marlins for the entirety of his career, despite one World Series victory and a period of mediocre success. He enjoyed manipulating salaries to move them down the line and trying his best to field a subpar team for the least amount of money.
In this case, untapped potential is more important than everything else. The Marlins could have dominated Major League Baseball if they had decent ownership. Rather, they received Jeffrey Loria.
To manage a sporting gem and ruin it takes a lot of skill. Dolan is a big factor in the Knicks’ enduring reputation as one of the worst sports teams. He is one of the most hated owners in professional sports because of his lack of patience in letting anyone build the organization and his exceedingly thin skin.
And his music is terrible.
What else can be said about Dan Snyder? He is undoubtedly one of the worst property owners ever. The ongoing legal battle may somewhat increase his illegal activity, but he still manages to surpass Donald Sterling as the worst owner in history.