The Washington Redskins have good reason to sue the NFL over salary cap sanctions. But there's a long-term incentive not to do so -- a Super Bowl in Washington.
Suing his fellow owners would make Redskins owner Dan Snyder the new Al Davis -- a social pariah who becomes the outsider. Not that Snyder is beloved in owner circles anyway. His five-year, $25 million contract with coach Steve Spurrier in 2002 escalated staff salaries leaguewide that cost other owners millions. So did Snyder's free agent spending sprees. Owners haven't forgotten those moves.
But suing your partners is a nuclear shot across boardrooms. Snyder's move to become a kingpin and push other owners around will not be tolerated.
It's not that the Redskins don't have a valid case. The NFL's $36 million salary-cap sanction over two years -- the second half coming this season -- was wrong. Maybe the Redskins violated a gentleman's agreement over not dumping salaries in an uncapped year, but there was no formal deal. The NFL Players Association selling out the Redskins won't help in court, though. Being right and winning are two different things in court, and the Redskins' suit is no sure thing.
The NFL sanction was led by New York Giants owner John Mara, an old-money owner who wields tremendous power leaguewide and is not coincidentally a big NFC East rival. While owners in many other cities without a direct conflict of interest probably would have let Snyder's salary move slide, Mara saw a chance to hurt his competitor -- one the old-school owner didn't like anyway.
Bet Mara was sure ticked Washington still won the division title last season over -- cough, cough -- the Giants.
The cap penalty may prevent the Redskins from retaining several free agents, including tight end Fred Davis. They just won't have the salary cap room. It will probably stop the team from upgrading the offensive line with free agents for the second straight year. The Redskins are actually fortunate not to have a first-round pick this year to spend millions on this season; that money that can be spent elsewhere.
There are 18 million reasons the Redskins should sue, but one thing that trumps them all -- the Super Bowl.
Sue the league and there is no way -- absolutely no way -- owners ever vote for Washington to host the game when a new stadium is built in 2027. An enclosed stadium would be a solid future candidate. If New York avoids a blizzard next year as Super Bowl host, Washington might even have a chance in the next decade.
But owners will hold a grudge against Snyder and Washington will see further payback in coming years from NFL owners. That's why the Redskins should just suck it up for one season and move along; winning would be a long-term loss.