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Dan Snyder Rolled the Dice and Finally Won

By Lucas McMillan

Dan Snyder is one of the most vilified owners in the NFL, and deservedly so. He spends money like the world is ending tomorrow, and often on players who don’t deserve it. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of his most egregious contracts:

> Antwaan Randle El, seven years, $31 million. Played 63 games as a Redskin.

> Albert Haynesworth, seven years, $100 million(!). Was run out of town by Mike Shanahan virtually immediately.

> Donovan McNabb, five years, $78 million.(This one was slightly more defensible; McNabb’s contract had a clause that paid him “only” $3.75 million if he was cut after 2010, which he most certainly was.)

So Snyder likes to spend his money fast, loose and irresponsibly. But these poorly conceived contracts are just the tip of the Dan Snyder iceberg (for a full list of his many flaws, mistakes and ethically questionable decisions, you can consult Dave McKenna’s bible of Snyder hate). However, there’s one thing you can’t say about Snyder: that he doesn’t care about the Redskins. His love of his team often manifests itself in terrible ways, but he does care. For all of his colossal missteps, he is genuinely doing what he thinks is right for his team.

That’s why, when the Redskins mortgaged their future for a chance at Robert Griffin III in this year’s draft, many people held their breath. If it worked out, it was a gamble worth taking. If Griffin underperformed, it would be the latest and greatest in a long string of horrific front office moves. But for once, Snyder’s aggressiveness and “eff it” attitude paid off. RGIII shows every indication of being the franchise quarterback most people in football thought he could be.

“At the time, I thought it was a lot to give up, but not too much,” Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon said to the Washington Post after Week 1. “I never thought it was like they [the Redskins] got robbed in that trade or anything. It is a lot. But good quarterbacks are hard to find, and you need to have one. If you have a chance to get one, you have to do it. They haven’t had a great one there for a long time.”

The Redskins gave up a treasure chest of picks to the St. Louis Rams to get RGIII; the sixth overall pick, a pick in the second round and first rounders in 2013 and 2014 was the asking price. Ultimately, the Redskins pulled the trigger. Was there any doubt they would? Has Dan Snyder ever seen an insane risk that he didn’t like? Coach Mike Shanahan, a figure in the organization that has purportedly wrestled some control away from the maniacal Snyder, said in the same Post story that he didn’t exactly feel comfortable with the price the ‘Skins paid, but that it was ultimately worth it.

“The difficult part was spending all the [time studying] film on Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin for three or four years, then coming to the conclusion whatever direction you went you’d feel good about the trade,” Shanahan said. “So we knew to go from the sixth position to the second position, it was going to cost us two number ones [beyond this year] and a two. That’s what we felt…. Now, obviously that’s a lot. [But] we felt good about both of those quarterbacks at that time. We felt it was worth the price.”

The Dan Snyder era has been a rocky one, but for the first time in years, an aggressive decision he made has put the organization in a prime position to succeed. (Of course, this year still wasn’t without some typical Snyder contract hiccups; five years and $42.5 million to Pierre Garcon? Really?) In 2012, for once, the product on the field looks like it’s actually worth as much as Snyder is paying for it. You have every right to say he’s a bad owner, but you definitely can’t say he isn’t invested in the Redskins’ success.

Lucas McMillan writes for For the latest Washington Redskins news, commentary and schedule information, visit Follow Football Schedule on Facebook and Twitter @FBSchedule.

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