City Desk

Has Dan Snyder Been a Victim of Height Speech All These Years?


Photo from the Washington Post's Reliable Source, but how reliable?

For the upwardly spiraling print platform of Washington City Paper, I wrote this week about Dan Snyder's height. I was inspired by a profile of the Redskins owner in the current issue of Forbes. Pick up a copy, read the column, savor the season.

It's probably the first story I've ever read in that magazine, and definitely the wrongest. It occasionally seems that the Forbes writer, Monte Burke,  just made stuff up to make Snyder look better than he should. Burke bizarrely even typed that before Snyder came around all traffic to FedExField was "funneled through a single two-lane road," but then Snyder swooped in and "fixed the parking and egress" problems that plagued game days at the stadium. None of that is true, of course.

Burke's buildup of Snyder includes bringing him to new heights, you know, height-wise. While mulling Snyder's feuds with the media, Burke threw in a Napoleon reference from the Washington Post's Mike Wise before telling readers that Snyder is actually "5 foot 9."

Burke says he didn't supersize Snyder to get him to 5'9". He got Snyder's height from Snyder, he says, and adds that after meeting the Redskins owner there seemed to be nothing implausible about the figure.

Five-foot-nine would, according to U.S. government health statistics, make Snyder of average height for an adult American male. I've never had one-on-one time with Snyder or hung out with him as Burke did for his story, so Burke knows better than me how tall Snyder really is. But my image of Snyder has always been as a short guy. When I read Burke's passage about how Snyder really walks tall, or at least walks average, I immediately thought back to photos of the owner with Tom Cruise during their days as partners.

Cruise's lack of height has long been fodder for detractors, yet in, for example, the Washington Post's shot with Snyder seen above (a 2008 photo that ran in the paper's Reliable Source column), Cruise seems the taller of the two by a good bit.

So what's going on here? Is Forbes insinuating that Cruise just wears more creative footwear than Snyder? If Burke is to be believed, does that mean somebody in the liberal media doctored the Snyder/Cruise shots for effect, like a newsweekly once browned-up O.J.?

Or, has Snyder's apparent shortness, which lead to all those "Napoleon" slurs through the years, been just some optical illusion? You know, like those "Magnetic Mountains" in the Middle of Nowhere (or New Brunswick, Canada) that my family would run into on summer vacations, where you pay a dollar to have your car roll uphill but it's not really rolling uphill?

Or maybe Burke just threw out a wrong number. If Snyder's actually 5'9", that would be fascinating, if only because he's had so many stature-related insults thrown at him over the years from journalists and bloggers and  fans—"Napoleon" shows up so often it could be mistaken for his middle name—that the image of him as a short guy has stuck.

The funniest thing I learned while writing the column was that there's a movement among European historians to adjust the real Napoleon's height at the same time Snyder's height is getting tweaked to the north over here. If the scholars succeed, Napoleon, who's been on the business end of shorty slurs for centuries, will get several bonus inches and will be considered to have been of average height.

So, whether Burke got Snyder's numbers right or not, it turns out a guy 5'9" could still have a Napoleon Complex. Just Snyder's luck!

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  • Gator Gains

    The little BoyBlunder SnyderSkin is actually 5'3" and that is stretching it a bit. He is totally worthless as the controlling "owner" of a sports team and is doing to the team formerly known as the Redskins the same thing he did to Six Flags. He has never understood that chemistry is the crucial element for a winning sports team, in part, because he never played or engaged in any sport. The closest he ever came to participating in a sport was when he wore the Sonny J youth jersey his daddy gave him. He has runined a really great sports franchise by vastly overpaying the likes of poisonous, washed-out divas like Portis, Haynesunworthy, Satan Moss, deeAngelo, etc. He makes up for his stupid salary blunders by continuing to rip off the loyal fans who someday may see the light and quit doing anything to further enrich the SnyderSkin. Rumor has it that he now plans to name the team the SnyderSkins because Paul Brown named a team after himself and the height challenged SnyderSkin seems to think of himself as a far better owner than Brownie! This will also solve the problems with the racist Redskin moniker and the little SnyderSkin will become the number one SnyderSkin.

  • Charlie

    Perhaps the camera is tilted. It is hard to tell.

  • ThomDC

    Have never met Dan Snyder and the thought of being near the little creep makes my skin crawl. Have met Tom Cruise though and he is not only very short but just plain "little" as in child like smallness. Tom Crusie is however less odious in that his face does not contribute to to the munchkin effect in the way Snyder's does.

  • MrNoWay1

    Dan Snyder could have used a Bobby Knight basketball practice or a Joe Gibbs practice, in order to develop a "thick skin."

    It's obvious that this guy Snyder is a thin skinned weasle despite his wealth.

    All the wealth in the world doesn't make one tough. Tough people wouldn't give a darn about this article he is suing about now.

  • MrNoWay1

    It's obvious that too many of the wrong people own sports teams these days.

    What do I mean by that? Not understanding the sports culture.

    The Redskins will be looked at as wimps from now on with this lawsuit.

    I guess Rex Ryan would not be able to criticize this team in the future either with the threat of a lawsuit.

    One cannot believe in free speech part-time, either.

    I hope the paper can get the necessary witnesses to testify whether Snyder forged names though.

    This lawsuit is tragically comical and farcical. Snyder is a real piece and then some....

  • JK Bowers

    I found myself standing next to Dan Snyder at the Capitol Grill in Tyson's several years ago and I was noticeably taller than him. I noticed, because at 5'5" I'm rarely taller than those around me...

  • incredulous

    Snyder's only short because he has thin skin....across the soles of his feet.

    Burke's not stretching the facts. Forbes publishing --shout out to cousin Lewis D'Vorkin --is so hip they set electronic type where every character is individually drawn and placed. The "6" got flipped and looks a "9."

    To sleuth this, set the crack team of WCP interns to inspecting photos in which people of known heights --ballplayers --appear with each other and with Snyder. By learning about distortion of perspective with ball-players of known height, they should be able to estimate Dan's height, (if not his distortion of perspective.) T
    Then, they can make the big bucks picking 6'6" Osama bin Laden out of a crowd.