“His bad media, which has been terrible, bordering on horrible, is a result of a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: They hate me, therefore I hate them and I won’t talk to them,” said Davis, the Washington lawyer who said he encouraged Snyder to get his side of the story out. “It’s circular.”
The team’s lack of competitive success has not helped. They have made the postseason only five times since Snyder bought the team in 1999, and off-the-field controversies have made things worse.
Snyder has sued an impoverished longtime season-ticket holder and a reporter who published an article he didn’t like, charged fans to watch training camp and cut down trees on federally protected land to improve the view from his house. Many of the team’s cheerleaders have described an uncomfortable work environment, including a photo shoot in which cheerleaders were topless at an event for sponsors and ticket holders.
Then there is the name, which even some die-hard fans reject. Eddie Huang, the celebrity chef and author of the memoir, “Fresh Off the Boat,” grew up in suburban Washington in the 1980s idolizing the team. But as a teenager, he said, he began to question why white fans dressed up as Native Americans.
“It got to a point where I was old enough to recognize that if someone had done this with a name about Asians or Blacks or Mexicans, it wouldn’t be accepted,” said Huang, who stopped wearing the team’s jersey several years ago. “If you called a team the ‘yellow skins’ or ‘Black skins,’ it would be lights out.”
Attendance has suffered. The team drew an average of 65,500 fans last year, less than 80 percent of the capacity at FedEx Field, one of the lowest percentages in the league. Over the last few years, the team has ripped about 10,000 seats out of the stadium.
Within and outside of the N.F.L., observers note that Snyder could benefit from changing the team’s name. Longtime fans would scoop up old merchandise and buy new jerseys and caps when the makeover was complete.