After covering the Washington Redskins for two seasons, Howard Bryant has one word for the relationship between the team and the Washington Post: “dysfunctional.”
Says Bryant: “With the exception of Joe Gibbs, it’s difficult to get a straight answer out of anybody in the front office. Dan Snyder is in the locker room, yet he’s never available for comment.”
One on one with Snyder?
“Never,” he says. “They do give interviews, just not to us. All the powwows and summits and lunches we tried to have, from the day-to-day standpoint, they didn’t pay off.”
The Redskins and the Post have been feuding since Snyder reacted angrily to what he saw as negative coverage, and the team yanked hundreds of the Post’s season tickets. Snyder invited Post editors to his mansion for a peace conference, but it only inflamed tensions.
“The Redskin players and the coaches were open and helpful,” Bryant says. “The locker room was the best I’ve ever covered. The front office was closed.”
Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson doesn’t see the problem: “Gibbs is the team president and is the voice and face of the team.”
Bryant is headed to ESPN, where he’ll write for its magazine and appear on TV. He’s also writing a biography of Hank Aaron.
Bryant says the Redskins’ relationship with the Post isn’t that different from the way it treats most reporters attempting to cover the team. He has covered the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s. In every case, the front offices were more open and available to reporters.
“It’s the most contentious relationship with any team I’ve covered,” Bryant says. “There are no bouquets in either direction.”
He adds: “I think the Post realizes the best way to cover the Redskins is without the illusion of détente. It makes for better coverage, anyway.”
Indeed—much better than the cozy relationship the Post seemed to have with the Redskins for many years.
This piece originally appeared in the September 2007 edition of the magazine.