Waking up to a string of text messages and alerts of someone dying is not the best way to wake up. Flyers founder and owner Ed Snider died early Monday morning at age 83 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Reading those texts and alerts of Snider’s passing put my day in a depressed state before I even stepped one foot out of my bed. I knew Snider had been battling cancer, but I didn’t realize it had been this bad.
I spent a good chunk of Monday reflecting on the Flyers in my lifetime and reading stories about Snider and hearing current and former players spill out kind word after kind word about a man they called, “Mr. Snider.”
With Snider passing away, it spun my mind into a whole cognitive swirl about my emotional connection to the sports teams I love. The emotional passion I have for my favorite teams, especially Duke, the Eagles, and the Flyers goes beyond just wanting them to win. It is what keeps me sane and motivated. It is what gives me joy that goes through the roof, and it is what brings me to tears. And all of it is totally justified.
When you look at the Philadelphia sports landscape, one thing that drives me more nuts than anything is poor ownership. It is exhibited in arguably all four professional teams in Philadelphia, and that can’t happen in a major market. But Snider stands above all of them.
First and foremost, I believe the top priority of an owner of a sports franchise is to care about what the fans think. Snider did just that. The urgency to win was always there as well, and while I did not agree at all with the way he went about it, Snider always had a hunger and thirst for winning.
Jeffrey Lurie does not have that same thirst. The urgency to win has never been there. He does not connect with the fans. Frankly, I think he is a weak owner who doesn’t know what he is doing. Example: Chip. Howie. “Holding people accountable for moves.” Its childish the way the Eagles can be run at times.
Josh Harris treats the Sixers like a novelty and it drives me nuts. Additionally, he clearly has never taken a public speaking class in his life. And with the Phillies, I have no idea.
While Snider wasn’t out in the public shaking hands with fans, his presence was always felt. He has created an emotional attachment with me far greater than I have with the Eagles, Phillies, and the Sixers – and I am insanely emotional with the Eagles.
It was simply the fact that he was trying to win. Doing it in a way that hurts the franchise is out of the question when it comes to looking back on Snider’s legacy. He wanted to win, and he cared more than anyone.
Ron Hextall said on 97.5 The Fanatic Monday morning that he couldn’t have worked with a better boss in his two years as general manager of the Flyers. Hundreds of tweets and statements poured out offering condolences to Snider. Philadelphia mourned the loss of Snider today in a way that he would have despised.
Do you think that this same thing happens when Jeffrey Lurie passes away? I certainly don’t. That’s not a knock on Lurie’ it’s the sheer fact that he doesn’t connect with the fans of the most popular team in Philadelphia.
I look at the Flyers fanbase more like a club. It is a tightly knit unit with an orange band around it. The support for the team during bad times will always be there. 19,000 plus people will be at each game.
And most Flyers fans will be on board with every move the organization makes. They will be on board because the Flyers really have not had a long period bad hockey in their entire existence.
And that’s why we are so happy they are in the playoffs. One year without playoff hockey is horrible.
Snider brought hockey to Philadelphia in 1967. He shook each player’s hands after each game he was at, win or loss.
It really hit me laying here in my bed Monday night that if not for Snider, the Flyers that we know and love today would not be here. That thought is what prompted me to write this article. Days like Monday take the emotional attachment to a sports team to the next level.
I rehashed every single Flyers memory I have in my lifetime. The run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003-04 against the Lightning was so exciting, even as a third or fourth grader. Keith Primeau’s goal in the third period to tie the game in game six followed by Simon Gagne’s overtime winner to send it to game seven. Jeremy Roenick’s game winner in triple overtime against the Leafs in the playoffs. The run to the Cup in 2010. The come from behind series against the Bruins. Claude Giroux’s game winner in game three of the Finals. I remember watching all of it and more. And it’s obvious that a big part of my love for the Flyers has been generated from Snider.
So I want to thank Ed Snider for making the organization that I love and deeply care about for making it what it is today. Ed Snider is the man who brought me and thousands of others hockey.
Philadelphia has lost one incredible person.