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http://www.timesdispatch.com/sports/MGBKWJODQJD.html

Sidekicks

Jurgensen a straight shooter with Snyder in unusual football friendship

BY PAUL WOODY

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Aug 24, 2003

Skins owner Dan Snyder (left) may not always like what Sonny Jurgensen has to say, but he values the broadcaster's candid opinions.

(Bruce Parker)

No one can say for certain if Nick Blaine and Louis Renault really started a "beautiful friendship" after they walked away from that airfield in the movie "Casablanca."

But when Dan Snyder and Sonny Jurgensen met at Redskin Park one day four years ago, it began what has become a beautiful friendship.

Snyder, 38, owns the Washington Redskins. Jurgensen, 69, is a former Redskins quarterback, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and an analyst for the Redskins' regular-season radio broadcasts.

And they are the best of friends.

"I first met him at the Kemper Open and just shook his hand," Jurgensen said. "The next time I saw him was at Redskin Park. He walked in, saw me with a cigar and said, 'Are you going to light that?' I said, 'This is a non-smoking building.' He said, 'Not anymore. I just bought it.' I thought, 'I'm going to like this guy.'"

Jurgensen thought correctly. Snyder is a businessman and entertains clients and business associates during games. During practices at Redskin Park, though, Snyder concentrates on football. He permits just a small circle of people to be around him then, and Jurgensen always is one of them.

"He's extremely distinguished, and his football knowledge is first-class," Snyder said. "We spend a lot of time together as friends, and we talk a lot of football. He's got a good eye for the game, and he's been covering the Redskins for most of his life.

"I didn't seek out Sonny. He didn't seek out the owner. I bumped into him in the hallway when I first got here. We had a common interest, and we just started hanging out."

Jurgensen is not shy about giving his opinion during his radio broadcasts. He has the same policy when he is talking with Snyder.

"He said he would like to pick my brain on football matters, and I said that was OK, under one condition," Jurgensen said. "I told him not to call me unless he wanted the truth. He laughed and said, 'That's fair.'

"He has enough people around him who tell him what he wants to hear. That's not my relationship with him. I tell him when I disagree with him, and he does the same to me."

Whenever Jurgensen is at Redskin Park, he and Snyder talk. When either is out of town, there will be two or three phone conversations each week.

Snyder made one long distance call that always will stand out in Jurgensen's mind.

"He called me from Paris," Jurgensen said. "We talked football for about two hours."

That's Paris, France, not Paris, Ky. Now that's a toll call.

"Once we start talking football, it's hard to stop," Snyder said.

"We talk mostly about sports," Jurgensen said. "Other sports, other teams. I can ask him about ownership, salaries, the league. He gives me good answers."

Jurgensen and Snyder seem to have a never-ending conversation during the season. Before a home game, Jurgensen will join Snyder for breakfast.

"He's very nervous," Jurgensen said. "He can't be still. He's worried about the game, how many people will be in the stadium, injuries, everything."

When the team is on the road, Jurgensen joins Snyder for dinner the night before the game.

No matter what the venue, no matter what the topic, Snyder gets Jurgensen's unvarnished opinion.

"He shoots it straight, always," Snyder said. "You can ask his opinion only if you want the truth and a direct answer. When it's good, it's good. When it's bad, it's bad. That's how you want the people around you to be. You don't want people just giving you fluff."

Jurgensen is not a father figure or lovable uncle or big brother to Snyder.

"I'm his friend," Jurgensen said. "We both want the same thing. We want the Redskins to be successful. He's got energy, enthusiasm and passion for the Washington Redskins.

"Wherever I go, invariably, I get questions about Dan. People say, 'He's this. He's that.' I tell them, 'You don't know him.'"

Most people know that Snyder's father died in May. Not everyone knows how that has affected him. He misses his father immensely.

Snyder and his father were very close. His father was a minority owner of the team, the man who first introduced his son to the Redskins and a man who once mortgaged his house to help finance one of his son's businesses.

"He did a lot more than that," Snyder said. "He was my best buddy."

Jurgensen and Snyder have talked about Snyder's loss.

"No one can get you over that," Jurgensen said. "No one can fill that void in your life."

Snyder certainly doesn't expect Jurgensen to do that. He just expects Jurgensen to tell him the truth about the Redskins, even when it might not be what Snyder wants to hear.

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nice article

"'I first met him at the Kemper Open and just shook his hand," Jurgensen said. "The next time I saw him was at Redskin Park. He walked in, saw me with a cigar and said, 'Are you going to light that?' I said, 'This is a non-smoking building.' He said, 'Not anymore. I just bought it.' I thought, 'I'm going to like this guy.'"

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"He has enough people around him who tell him what he wants to hear. That's not my relationship with him. I tell him when I disagree with him, and he does the same to me."
Ok, so Sonny's on board about Snyder's yes-men too.

I too think Snyder the owner is or will ultimately be good for the team. However I think we should drop our illusions about Snyder the man.

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