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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Another Side to Former Flyers' Owner Ed Snider

Joseph Heller once wrote that "all that glitters isn't gold."  Snider, who passed away recently, was eulogized as the best sports owner in Philadelphia history and a true visionary in the world of sports.  This article here refutes that and reveals some facts about Snider that got whitewashed over the years.  When you read it, you can draw conclusions at various ends of a spectrum, either that these are lies, or that they're true but that Snider changed over the years, or that Snider's reputation was based on a foundation constructed of silly putty and wet tissues but burnished by a fawning media and his loyalty to sometimes competent and sometimes not ex-Flyers.  Read the article here.

My opinion is that Ted Beitchman's article is true.  I had heard some of the stories from family members and what Beitchman writes confirms what I had heard.  Look, Snider did develop the loyalty of his ex-players and I'm sure did a lot of good things for them and others.  But it doesn't appear that the Flyers were his idea and it seems to appear that he took advantage of Jerry Wolman's difficulties for his own personal gain.  What gets lost in the translation is that he was a horrible leader of the 76ers for 15 years and that his refusal to move away from Flyers' alumni and the 1970's style of play has kept the Flyers without a Stanley Cup since the mid-1970's (and some of that style -- the endless fighting, third men in and bench-clearing brawls -- has basically been heavily regulated and penalized). 

I'm not a hockey fan per se (I like playoff hockey), don't like the fighting aspects of the game and wonder whether any team has a multiple of fans beyond those who regularly attend the games.  The game is hard to follow on television and it's hard to identify with players who wear headgear. 

At the end of the day, I thought that the press missed out on the real Snider the way they missed out on baseball's steroids scandal.  They referred to him as "Mr." long past when they referred to any other figure as Mr.  I just couldn't figure out why.  He owned a sports team, cut an unbelievable and virtually unaccountable deal with the Roberts' family and Comcast to maintain control of a team he ceased owning (and running the 76ers horribly and the Flyers in an up-and-down fashion) and would have been fired after a few years of mismanaging the 76ers had there been any modicum of accountability and would have been fired after say five years given his history after the Flyers lack of progress.  Instead, he was put on this pedestal and given an entitlement to preside over not one but two sports teams because of what he did in the early-to-mid 1970's.  It was hard to believe and hard to take.

That doesn't make him an evil or horrible person, of course, just a person who had his successes (many, some big and all well publicized) and his failures (basically glossed over by a media who either was in awe of him or afraid of losing access or some form of retribution).  What Ted Beitchman does is to try to round out the picture of someone who was about as human in character as many others, if at times more so. 

Sometimes you just have to let it go, as Jerry Wolman did.  But other times to clarify the record the entire story should be told.  And Ted Beitchman did a good job telling it.


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