SBD/Issue 34/Franchises

Redskins' Ban Of All Signs Not A League-Wide NFL Policy

Redskins Banning
Signs At FedExField
The Redskins "aren't following NFL marching orders in banning homemade signs" at FedExField, as the league has "no policy of banning signs or enforcing editorial judgments on clothing" at its games, according to Sean Leahy of USA TODAY. Several NFL teams noted that the general principle is that "messages cannot be offensive." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail said, "It is the home club's responsibility to prevent the display of temporary signs or banners which obstruct sightlines or which are inflammatory, derogatory or generally in bad taste." Bengals Dir of Business Development Bob Bedinghaus said, "We would remove any sign that we find offensive or vulgar." But Redskins COO David Donovan acknowledges that FedExField security officials "might have been overzealous in asking fans to obscure T-shirts critical of team owner Daniel Snyder." CBS Sports Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow indicated that no NFL team has "ever told him signs wouldn't be available for a broadcast" (USA TODAY, 10/29).

PROJECT CENSOR: In DC, Dan Daly writes it "doesn't matter what silly spin the organization wants to put on this." In the end, it "still comes across as censorship, the stifling of dissent, when some of the signs taken away voice displeasure" with Snyder and Redskins Exec VP/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato. Daly: "It's one thing if the sign uses foul language or blocks the view of an entire section; it's another when it merely exercises the fan's First Amendment rights" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/29). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "People in Washington are angrier over this ... than they are over the team's losing ways of recent years. If anybody tries to spin this and say it's anything other than (censorship), they're liars" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/28). CSN's Ivan Carter: "Do they not get that this makes it even look worse?" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 10/28).'s Kevin Blackistone: "People are just ticked off to a height that I've never seen before. They want to express it. They should be given the right to express it." L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: "I can't believe that Federal Express, which pays $7.6(M) a year to sponsor that stadium, wants their name associated with this kind of censorship" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/28).

Writers Criticizing Redskins' Team
Management, Front Office, Snyder
MAKING ENEMIES: The POST's Michael Wilbon wrote the Redskins "didn't learn a damn thing from being called out" this summer for "suing season ticket holders who could no longer afford seats in the worst recession in decades." That incident "should have embarrassed them into cleaning up their act," but team management "has gone from bad to worse." By banning signs at FedExField, did Snyder "think this is going to make folks around town stop talking about either the team's incompetence or the fact that an increasing number of people hold him (justifiably) responsible?" Wilbon: "Could a club think any less of the people who support it than this censorship suggests?" (, 10/28). In DC, Sally Jenkins writes while the Redskins have a 2-5 record on the field, "by far the worst performers on the team are in the front office." Team management "can no longer deny its primary role in running cohesion and exacerbating the team's problems, despite its best efforts to blame others, and to spin and censor." Jenkins: "Forget their NFL rivals, the Redskins apparently have enough opponents inside their own building" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/29). Washington Post reporter Gene Wang: "I grew up in this city. I’ve been here 40 years and I’ve not once seen it this bad with the Redskins. ... It's the organization as a whole, the mismanagement, the height of arrogance with which they are carrying themselves is what's making fans really angry" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 10/28).

CUT OWNERS SOME SLACK?'s Ross Tucker, who played in the NFL from '01-07, wrote "flawed owner involvement is one of the worst-kept secrets in sports." It is "easy for fans to point to the relative lack of success of teams like the Cowboys and Redskins of late and blame the owners for being overly involved." But Tucker wondered, "If you were the owner of an NFL team, would you take a backseat and decline to have significant input on all the football decisions? I didn't think so. You see, making the decisions is why businessmen like [Jerry] Jones and Snyder get involved in pro sports" (, 10/28).

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