Putz of the Day: Dan Snyder

Josh Levin, at Slate:

Dan Snyder wants to help Native Americans. In an open letter, the owner of the Washington NFL team describes the hardships faced by American Indian tribes and what he’s doing to help fix them. Snyder says his new foundation has distributed 3,000 winter coats, athletic shoes for Native American children, and a backhoe to Nebraska’s Omaha Tribe. “For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved,” Snyder writes. “As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions.” Oh, and by the way, the team is not changing its offensive nickname: “[O]ur team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.”

At least Snyder is consistent. The owner, and his team, could commit to helping Native American causes while also admitting that the franchise’s long-standing nickname—a name that Slate will not print—must be changed. But that’s not how Snyder operates. When you’re stubborn, cynical, and rich, you don’t see the team’s nickname controversy and the plight of the American Indian as independent problems with independent solutions. Rather, they’re issues to be bundled and resolved together, with shoes and coats buying the goodwill that your franchise will never earn on its own…

… Rep. Betty McCollum, the co-chair of the House Native American Caucus, said on Tuesday that “Snyder wants to keep profiting from his team’s racist brand and use those profits to attempt to buy the silence of Native Americans with a foundation that is equal parts public relations scheme and tax deduction.”…

Incidentally, Wikipedia’s first cite for the word ‘putz’ is not the ‘Yiddish vulgarism’ with which we are all familiar, but ‘a decorative, miniature-scale village often set up during the Christmas season… rooted in the elaborate Christmas traditions of the Moravian church’. Tiny, fake models intended to celebrate traditions extinct in the modern world…

30 replies
  1. 1
    cokane says:

    i just dont understand why they cant change the name to some tribe or something like that. just about every college has changed their mascot

  2. 2
    srv says:

    You people always have it in for successful white men.

    Snyder is the victim here. He is stuck with a brand name he inherited.

    The only time I watch the Cowboys is to see the [unmentionables] beat them. This is a proud, childhood memory for many of us.

    But you would take that away from us with your John Wayne values.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    Incidentally, Wikipedia’s first cite for the word ‘putz’

    Duh. They’re listed alphabetically.

    Know many families who set up elaborate holiday miniature villages as a tradition.

  4. 4
    Sophist says:

    @cokane: Because people like that aren’t in the habit of making reasonable accommodations for others, and being asked to offends them.

  5. 5
    Anne Laurie says:

    @efgoldman: I am no expert, but my impression is that a schmuck is just an idiot, but a putz is a jerkwad who knows better than his idiocy. Under that understanding, Snyder is a putz, because he knows he’s in the wrong but is too stubborn to quit!

    Also, I kinda like the poesy of Snyder setting up a pseudo-history of ‘tradition’ and ‘respect’ to defend his lousy, retrograde team name — like my grandma’s cardboard xmas props, yellowed & battered but still carefully tucked away every year…

  6. 6
    Mike in NC says:

    Hey, at least Snyder isn’t providing these disadvantaged children with smallpox-infected blankets like they did in the 1880s.

  7. 7
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax: So do I, but I gotta say that the Italians have the edge over the Moravians when it comes to artistry!

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    As Yiddishisms, a schmuck is a jerk and a putz is a stupid low-life.

  9. 9
    AnotherBruce says:

    Dan Snyder has the right to call his team whatever he wants. But this really doesn’t hide the fact that he is a god awful owner whose team will never win a championship as long as his inept ass is running the franchise.

  10. 10
    piratedan says:

    regardless of the motives, any cash that gets into the hands of those tribal entities that need it is better than the nothing that they’re currently receiving. Feel free to condemn the measures as self serving PR grandstanding, but if something good comes out of it to help those in need, that’s more important imho. Who knows, supposedly in the mandate for the charity they’re even talking about jobs programs which are virtually non-existent out there in some very remote locales.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    You’re both right, “putz” and “schmuck” both refer to jerks and to peni$es, just as “dick” in English is both a body part descriptor and a personality descriptor.

    According to this language article in the NY Times, “putz” is slightly more insulting than “schmuck”:

    Question: I know “putz” and “schmuck” both mean literally “penis.” But how does their common usage differ? It is worse to call someone a schmuck or a putz? — Judah Greenblatt

    Think of putz as a shmuck rampant; it’s definitely worse. While both can mean fool or jerk, putz also has a sense closer to “s.o.b.” or the more pejorative meanings of George Carlin’s favorite twelve-letter word. While a shmuck can be a jerk, he can also be a poor fool. He can even be you. The downsized shemgegge in the post above could well describe himself as a shmuck: “Like a shmuck I didn’t even bill for my overtime.” You can have pity for a shmuck: “The poor shmuck got fired two days after buying a house.” A putz is always vicious and always someone else.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    Please to be released from moderation? Apparently FYWP doesn’t like more than 2 links right now.

  13. 13
    Anne Laurie says:

    @efgoldman: Nope, it’s the museum-quality 18th-century Neapolitan creche figuresof which the Capodimonte stuff is a kitch imitation.

    The ‘figures’ (whole villages’ worth of hand-carved individuals, incredibly detailed) are worth seeing even if you have no interest whatsoever in the religious trio (newborn Jesus, Mary & Joseph) nominally at the center of the display.

  14. 14
    Roger Moore says:


    You can have pity for a shmuck

    I think this is the key difference. People frequently talk sympathetically about a poor schmuck who the world seems to be taking a dump on; they’d never use putz the same way.

  15. 15
    E. says:

    @AnotherBruce: No, he has the *power* to call his team whatever he wants. Not the right.

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:


    Snyder says his new foundation has distributed 3,000 winter coats, athletic shoes for Native American children, and a backhoe to Nebraska’s Omaha Tribe.

    Anyone else thinking that the coats and shoes were probably team-logo imprinted irregulars Snyder couldn’t sell?

  17. 17
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:


    i just dont understand why they cant change the name to some tribe or something like that. just about every college has changed their mascot

    Except the University of North Dakota, which got rid of their nickname but has been prevented by the legislature from adopting a new one. Hence, they are known to the rest of us as the University of North Dakota Fighting Whioux. The whole saga has been a never ending source of amusement that included a referendum to amend the state constitution to require UND to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname. Unfortunately, it lost at the ballot box because I really wanted to watch the NCAA apply the sanctions they had ready.

    And there are some schools that have not changed their tribal nicknames. In order to keep them (without those NCAA sanctions) they had to get approval from the tribe in question through a referendum of the tribe’s members.

  18. 18
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @E.: Yeah. The NFL has the right to tell him to fucking change it. Welcome to the world of franchise agreements.

  19. 19
    gratuitous says:

    @Mike in NC: Well, at least for now we won’t accuse Snyder of that.

    But really, Snyder’s just doing what he’s always done through life: If a problem persists, just buy it off. The Omaha should take his gifts and his money and then re-double their efforts to change the racist nickname of his lousy football team. If you can’t take their money and then turn around and screw ’em . . .

  20. 20
  21. 21
    hoosierspud says:

    Here’s a deal for you, NFL: Snyder gets to keep the name of the Washington team, but the Atlanta team has to change its name to the “Crackers”.

  22. 22
    ellennelle says:

    the only dimension guys like snyder grok is winning, period. all this BS about shoes and coats (i kept expecting the smallpox blankets in the list) is designed to win, his way. nothing else.

    and sure, he may have the “right” (whatever the hell that might mean) to call his team anything he wants, but he must also accept the consequences of exercising that “right.”

    these are the consequences: a world of hurt coming from every public direction he faces.

    most of us call that shame, but apparently this cretin skipped that class (innuendo intended).

  23. 23
    R3 says:

    The Redskins are never going to change their name. Never. Dan Snyder will live to be an old man, and by the time he dies this obsession with banning anything which could possibly be interpreted as offensive will seem as strange and incomprehensible to the people of that time as flag pole sitting and alchemy seem to us today.

    BTW, today I learned that the word “homosexual” is offensive to, err… homosexuals. You can’t call them what they are now. Brilliant.

  24. 24
    Ben Cisco says:


    Here’s a deal for you, NFL: Snyder gets to keep the name of the Washington team, but the Atlanta team has to change its name back to the “Crackers”.

    I Googled it – imagine my surprise.

  25. 25
    Larv says:

    Skins fan here. I don’t like the name and think it needs to be changed, but I don’t think we should pretend that it’s simple. The Skins are an old, historic franchise; and that history is, for better or worse, tied up with the name. That creates problems both for the owner and the fans.

    Snyder is a putz extraordinaire and a terrible owner, but he’s also a first and foremost about business and maximizing profits. A name change would almost certainly devalue the franchise by separating it from it’s history, so Snyder won’t change it until he’s forced to, and then he’ll insist the NFL compensate him for the loss of value. Until he gets paid, he’s going to spin like mad – it’s what he does.

    As a fan, I’m ambivalent. I can recognize that the name needs to be changed, but it still sucks. Can you change the name without losing at least part of the team identity, without losing that continuity with the past that differentiates a historic franchise from a recent expansion? Washington fans have already had to watch the Bullets become the freaking Wizards, we’re extremely leery of seeing the same happen to the much more beloved Skins. I can’t see a tweak of the name – like renaming them the “Warriors” but keeping the iconography – settling the controversy, although it might be worth a try. And if they do completely rebrand the team, it’ll be Dan freaking Snyder in charge of that rebranding, a prospect which fills any Washington fan with dread. We’ll end up with some soulless, poll-tested nickname and color scheme which has been calculated to maximize merchandise sales. F*#k that.

  26. 26
    Larv says:


    the only dimension guys like snyder grok is winning, period.

    That may be true for most owners, but the only dimension Snyder groks is profit. Winning is nice, but it definitely takes a back seat. Snyder’s a marketing guy – if he was offered enough money to compensate him for any loss of value from a name change, and was protected from fan wrath by being forced into it by the NFL, I think he’d jump at the chance to reshape the franchise in his image and in the most marketable way possible. He may really be as much of fan of the team as he claims, but his first love will always be Team Snyder.

  27. 27
    RSR says:

    I think I’m naming this years holiday homebrew ‘Christmas Putz.’

  28. 28
    James Hare says:

    The people asking for “the NFL” to change the name misunderstand how the NFL is run. Roger Goodell doesn’t own anything. He is an employee of the 32 team owners. Anything substantive has to be voted on by the owners. You’re talking 31 near-billionaires or better who bought NFL teams in order to run them entirely. They are not about to start allowing the peons to tell them how to run their franchises. Telling Dan Snyder how to run his franchise takes power away from ALL of them because it proves they’re beholden to public opinion.

    Which do you think an NFL owner craves more? Adulation from the public or power? A rich fan of the team can buy a nice suite and enjoy associating with the team. Look at Jack Nicholson — everybody knows he’s a Lakers fan. The owner wants a different relationship with the team. It’s not possession — fans are pretty possessive of “their” team. It’s about power, plain and simple. Owning the team isn’t the point — running the team is. That’s why guys like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder can’t help but be deeply involved in their operations even if it hurts the team — they bought the toy to play with it, not keep it in the package and gain value!

  29. 29
    JAFD says:

    Have y’all heard of the proposed compromise solution ?

    The team will still be known as the Redskins, but the team’s logo, instead of a picture of a Native American, will have a picture of a potato.

  30. 30
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Anne Laurie: a shlemiel is an idiot. so is a nudnik.

    Shmuck means (lit) “the family jewels”–it means you just called someone a dick. Putz means the same thing. I’m sure there are shadings between putz and shmuck. In my experience a putz is more of a dumbass, but a shmuck is more of a straight-up asshole.

    ETA: serves me right for not reading the thread–I totally agree that a shmuck can just be some guy, working Joe, I mean Josh, the slob. Larry David did a whole routine about the class/income implications of the work shmuck. But I missed the “vicious” meaning of putz. I’ve only heard it as a term of contempt.

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