NFL

After Thyroid Cancer, Washington Football Team Owner Dan Snyder Still Wakes Up at Night to Check His Neck

Dan Snyder isn’t always the target of positive headlines. But this doesn’t mean his issues as the owner of the Washington Football Team define him. Lost in all of the criticism, the franchise’s owner is coming off a health scare that still affects him. Snyder’s cancer diagnosis took a backseat to his controversies. Still, a look at what he endured helps humanize the polarizing figure.

Dan Snyder’s ownership of the Washington Football Team

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Snyder was the talk of the town when he first bought the Washington Football Team in 1999, reports Rolling Stone. With an $800 million price tag and a willingness to think outside the box, people were intrigued by the young Snyder. However, with every passing year, Snyder’s dictatorial style did more harm than good for the team.

There were some good years with signs of hope for the then-Redskins. Still, all of the flirtations with contention were derailed due to bad management, fluke accidents, and Snyder’s meddling. He went from being the talk of the town to one of the most infamous owners in American sports. And Snyder almost embraced this. 

From the scandals about the team’s name to a recent bombshell report by the Washington Post about the toxic nature of the Redskins’ workplace culture, Snyder has been through the wringer but remains the majority owner of the team. Despite the bad press, Snyder has fought adversity that many ordinary people can relate to. 

A cancer scare

Team owner Dan Snyder
Daniel Snyder at a press conference in 1999 | STEVE SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

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Snyder and his wife, Tanya, may seem like out-of-touch billionaires immune to the average person’s fears. Still, both got a lesson in the unpredictable nature of life with separate cancer fights, details The Washingtonian. Not long after Dan took over the NFL team, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when he found a lump in his neck. 

Years later, Tanya had her cancer scare after discovering she had breast cancer. According to Dan, the humbling experience made him realize that he wasn’t immune to the challenges of life. 

“I don’t want to say you take things for granted, but you realize the meaning of relationships, the importance of your family when something like this happens,” Dan said per The New York Times. “It sure ages you and matures you pretty quickly. I joked with my friends when I got cancer; I felt like Superman and now they took my cape.”

He began taking solace in his relationships. When longtime sportscaster George Michael had his own cancer scare, Snyder checked in with him and made sure that he was OK. “When word got out that I was sick,” Michael told the Washingtonian, “The first call came from Dan.” The two struck up a friendship soon after. 

Snyder deals with humanity

For all of the negative headlines Dan gets, many of them warranted, his cancer scare helped him do a lot of good. The Washington Football Team is devoted to raising awareness for cancer. They’ve held several nights commemorating those who either fought or are still fighting the illness. Scares like this don’t absolve anyone, but they do show that we’re all human; none of us are invincible.

Both Tanya and Dan seem to have gotten through their initial scares. Still, their devotion to one another and the ability to see the reality in their situation added grace and humility to the tumultuous ride that is his Washington ownership tenure. It still affects him.

Snyder still occasionally wakes up in the middle of the night to check for lumps in his neck, according to the New York Times. Cancer can come for anyone at any time. By speaking candidly about this subject, Dan and Tanya help normalize this for those who think it only affects the average person.