Even after the midterm elections this November, Washington D.C. continues to exhibit uncontrollable spending habits. However, I am not talking about the Republican Party, and not even the Democratic Party. The irresponsible spending can be summed into a few front office moves made by multiple franchises in the D.C. area. The Redskins, Wizards, and Nationals explain how money is no object in the nation’s capital. Let us begin with Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. When Snyder purchased the Redskins in May 1999, it was the most expensive transaction in sporting history, setting the record at $800 million dollars. However, Synder can only add to the debt of his transaction by acquiring Albert Haynesworth for 7 years at $100 million. This deal once again was a record breaker, but for the highest contract ever received by a defensive player. I am not a NFL head coach, but if you are planning to pay someone over $10 million a year, he should start in at least 1 game during the season (especially if he is healthy). Let us also not forget about Dan Synder locking up Mike Shanahan for 5 yrs. at $35 million. Shanahan has been constantly picked fights with Haynesworth, whom he won’t start, but he also benched starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb, who was acquired early in the season for a 2nd round draft pick. (Side note: Nate Allen, the selection of the Eagles with the 2nd round pick, currently is 2nd in INTS for NFL rookies these season). But back to Shanahan and the McNabb controversy. After the benching of McNabb, Shanahan then commented on McNabb as “not having the cardiovascular endurance to run the 2 minute drill.” You may be wondering why I am explaining all the McNabb and Shanahan drama, but it is because I failed to mention he new contract he signed with the Redskins for 5 years for $78 million ($3.5 million guaranteed: originally reported as $40). For a quarterback who was benched mid-season and essentially described as “fat,” it is extremely hard to justify resigning McNabb for so much money. In a time where most Americans have experienced a strangle hold on their wallet in recent years, the Washington Redskins have demonstrated a lack of fiscal responsibility. Is it justifiable to invest $100 million in one person, and then deny them playing time? Or is one of the moves just a sunk cost and you need to take a loss on?
The lack of monetary accountability has also seeped into the Washington Wizards front office. Gilbert Arenas, the face of the Wizards franchise has also disappointed the citizens of the District of Columbia. In the summer of 2008, Arenas signed a contracted for 6 years worth over $110 million. However, since the 2007-08 season, Arenas has only appeared in 47 games, only slightly over half an NBA season. Aside from Arenas nagging injuries, an incident during last season landed the NBA all-star in a halfway house and on 2 years of probation. Luckily, for the Wizards they still have a few more years to get the most out of their star. It is hard to predict the future, but for the years Arenas was with the Wizards before the new contract, could no one see his selfish and immature attitude? Gilbert Arenas clearly has character issues, but I believe the Wizards have issues that are more serious. This is for failing to prepare themselves properly in the event of future adversity with an unfortunate investment, such as, number 0.
Lastly is the Washington Nationals, arguably the best team out of 3 very underperforming and undisciplined sport franchises. Most recently for the Washington Nats, they signed Stephen Strasburg, a baseball prodigy, a student of the game who single handedly sold out baseball games. Strasburg, and rightfully deserving of the money he earned ($15.1 million, also another record), ended up on the disabled list very quickly this year. His record contract passed Mark Prior ($10.5 million) who also was managed by Rob Riggleman who quickly ran Prior out of baseball with multiple injuries. Mark Prior is harder to find today than George W. Bush during Hurricane Katrina. The Nationals also found themselves a new home in 2008, constructing Nationals Park for $611 million. Nationals are 23 out of 30 of MLB attendance. Need I say more? It is evident that the owners of the Washington sports franchises are as irresponsible as our leaders in Washington. With that, the Nationals are a young franchise with multiple young stars that will eventually reach their potential. Yet, the problem remains with the leaders of these young stars, and unfortunately leading them nowhere. The term, “fiscal responsibility,” is constantly thrown around like a $20 bill at Spearmint Rhino club after a congressional meeting. In addition, the trend in Washington of economic recklessness has reached all the way into our homes; for example, football fans are forced to watch the Washington Redskins endure a beating while McNabb has multiple interceptions after signing a contract extension and Haynesworth has recorded 1 tackle. If we can question our government, we should be able to object to the transactions our teams are making. These teams were created for fans, constructed in locations with strong “fan bases.” The fans deserve rewards like our glorified and merchandized players are rewarded. Not unlike the midterm elections, I think we need to see a change in ownership in Washington.