It stuck out as a little odd Friday, when Washington announced the consideration of a name change, that head coach Ron Rivera was quoted in the statement.
Then Saturday, Rivera did an interview about the process, saying he was collaborating with owner Dan Snyder in discussions about the name.
It appears that’s because for the lack of a top football executive since the firing of former team president Bruce Allen, the last few months have been a bit rudderless for Snyder’s team, with a lot of leadership for non-football topics falling on Rivera.
A report this morning from the Washington Post describes the team’s operations in the last few months as “chaotic” with no clear point man to deal with the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the weeks of protests that followed, a worldwide pandemic, and the sudden shift from “NEVER” changing their offensive nickname to suddenly doing so in the wake of societal backlash and sponsor pressure.
That’s led to some uncertainty among the staff as to who is leading certain efforts, and Snyder hasn’t been around to ask. The report says he’s been out of the country most of the last three months, going to the Bahamas, making a quick stop home in Maryland, and then departing from Europe where he’s been lately during the most recent drama.
Snyder’s appears to mainly rely on a pair of friends and outside executives who handle his personal affairs, and a parade of strategists he brings in like football coaches (of which he’s had eight and two interims in 21 years).
In the past, Allen would have been at the fore of most of this. While the product he put on the field was bad, he at least knew the business of the league and offered stability. Now, the people in Snyder’s ear are Karl Schreiber (the chief financial officer of Snyder Enterprises and not a team employee) and Jay Leveton (a partner in the Stagwell Group, a Washington-based marketing firm).
“He goes through his Rolodex and calls random people until he gets an opinion he likes. And he follows it,” said a person who had worked with Snyder for seven years.
Another who worked with him for five years said: “He seeks advice, but he only hears what he wants to hear. His favorite phrase is ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ ”
So at a time when Snyder has multiple problems to deal with there’s a lack of direction. That appears to have left Rivera to be the voice of the team — similar to his days with the Panthers when owner Jerry Richardson sold the team in the wake of allegations of workplace improprieties and sexual and racial harassment.
In June, Rivera was asked to talk to business-side employees, and help craft the team’s statement following Floyd’s death. He admitted to the Post that wasn’t anything he was expecting.
“The interesting thing for me is that I’m going to make some mistakes,” Rivera said. “This is my first time. I’m going to learn and correct them.”
And it appears he’s going to do so without the traditional layers of executive support, or his owner even in the same country.