Chairman of the Bored
The Redskins official fan message board, extremeskins.com, has been a very fun read lately. Folks who hate everything Dan Snyder has done since Joe Gibbs fled are battling it out with folks who love everything done by the owner of the team, who happens to also be the owner of the board.
But not everybody's enjoying the banter. I got an email over the weekend from an "Eric Smith," a longtime extremeskins member who as of Saturday was banned from Snyder's message board while defending, sort of, a City Paper story I wrote about the owner and his Redskins employees shared ties to investments in Six Flags, the amusement park chain.
Specifically, Smith, while posting as "Shadowplay," was kicked off Snyder's site after insulting one of his and my insulters, a veteran moderator named
Gary Mark Steven.
The beginning of the end of Smith's extremeskins membership came when Steven, who posts as "Om," had followed up one of Smith's posts in the thread about the City Paper column with some snark: "Yawn. Meet Dave McKenna's target audience," Steven posted.
Smith met Steven's snarkiness and raised him: "Yawn. Meet Daniel Snyder's pool cleaner," Smith rebutted.
A chuckler of a comeback, I'd say.
Alas, Smith's walking papers from Snyder's site came quickly after that was posted. Steven emailed Smith to say he had been booted off "indefinitely."
Steven, who in my recent email exchanges with him seems to be as whiny and humorless away from the message board as he is on it, is currently the most powerful moderator at extremeskins – his avatar caption describes him as "The President" of the site. He also freelances puff pieces for Snyder's main website, Redskins.com. Steven gets access to the press box for Skins games and to team hotels on the road through the team.
Yet, far as I can tell, Steven, who inserts smiley faces into his message-board posts at a creepy rate for a 47-year-old guy (if his bio information on the site is to be believed), has never fully disclosed to extremeskins members the extent of the privileges granted him by the team for his attacks on critics of Skins management, let alone his apparent status as an employee of Snyder's.
Even without the most basic disclosure, the uptick in insults members of the message board are now throwing Steven's way makes it seem like posters have sniffed out his conflicts of interest just from his attack-dog act.
Smith, for one. In his email to me, Smith said he called Steven "Snyder's pool cleaner" out of frustration with "the Snyder yes men who run the message board and effectively control the message if it's critical of the owner" and "the system of intimidation and bullying that the extremeskins staff uses to keep the dissension to a minimum."
Asked to respond to Smith's charges about Snyder's site and questions about the degree of his employment by the Redskins, Steven said via email that after reading my City Paper stories he regards me as being "completely unbound by any sense of objectivity, accountability or even a passing sense of honor" and declined.
Steven must really dislike me. His email didn't include a single smiley face.