Groundskeepers Sue Redskins Owner

Friday, September 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — A father and son who worked as groundskeepers for the Washington Redskins sued team owner Daniel Snyder, contending he defamed them in a magazine article.

John Jenkins Sr. and John Jenkins Jr. say Snyder damaged their reputations and caused them ``mental anxiety, emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation'' because of the Sports Illustrated article in November 1999.

The suit, filed in Fairfax County Court in Virginia, specifically refers to one quote attributed to Snyder. The owner was discussing Redskin Park, the practice facility where the father and son worked.

``The fields were in bad shape,'' Snyder said. ``There were three guys trying to kill the players with their crappy fields, so I brought in the head of the grounds crew at the stadium to oversee the fieldwork. Shame on me for trying to make the fields perfect.''

Snyder spokesman Karl Swanson on Friday called the lawsuit ``frivolous'' and said it will be defended ``vigorously.''

``The allegation that (the Jenkinses) created the conditions of fields and were trying to kill players, and not even understanding what the conditions of fields are — those statements are untrue,'' Bernard DiMuro, the lawyer for the two men, said Friday.

The former groundskeepers want Snyder to retract his comments. They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The magazine quoted Snyder as defending his firing of more than two dozen workers, including the Jenkinses, soon after he bought the team in July 1999.

The suit says father and son were able to keep the fields ``safe and reliable until the late 1990s'' in spite of an inadequate sprinkler and drainage system.

DiMuro said that beginning in 1998, the Jenkinses warned the former owners, the family of the late Jack Kent Cooke, about the field and repeated those warnings to Snyder after he bought the team in 1999.